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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Science and History Lessons Come from Restoring Ancient Ponds

Science and History Lessons Come from Restoring Ancient Ponds
Video & Transcript

Science and History Lessons Come from Restoring Ancient Ponds (Transcript)

Narrator: On the Kona Coast of the big island of Hawaii, there's a ramshackle collection of fish tanks, pipes and mobile housing units that looks more like a laboratory than a school. The ambiance is appropriate, because there's a bold experiment in education underway here.

Teacher: I need student helper to be in charge of this to help me put the packets together.

Narrator: Instead of taking biology, history and math, these high school students spend the school day working on various projects that encompass everything from restoring ancient fish ponds, to surveying reef ecosystems, to building exotic electric vehicles and racing them. Opened in the Year 2000 as an alternative public high school for tenth through twelfth grade, the West Hawaii Explorations Academy, or WHEA reflects the educational philosophy of Principal Bill Woerner.

Bill: Education is not a collection of information. Education is being able to function well in a society. These students function really well, because they've learned how to operate on small teams, and to lay out how to solve complicated problems in a reasonable way.

Like two, three, four, five.

Any color? Or white?

Black.

Bill: The little pieces and snippets of information they might get along the way, that's sort of irrelevant, that's the risk that they work with. But the structure of how you go about learning and being a lifelong learner, those are the things that, I think, this program does very well.

Teacher: [speaking foreign language]

Student: Si.

Teacher: Okay.

Narrator: Williams 130 students receive some traditional instruction in math, reading, writing and language arts. But they earn most of the credit for their core subjects by managing and staffing a variety of projects. They develop their own research parameters, conduct online research. And consult with mentors.

Student: To take sea water, you have to bleach it, then you have to add the sodium phosphate, and neutralize it. And then you can put the algae in and grow it. So it says...

Narrator: They review their evidence portfolios with their teachers each week, and make a final written and oral presentation of their findings at the end of the semester.

Teacher: And see if you can find the contact for him.

Narrator: While the environment is at times chaotic, some researchers insist that WHEA's approach is effective.

Nina: I have done research that led me to believe that the important parts of education are number one that people have choice and control over their own learning. And number two that they're in a collaborative environment. And thirdly, that kids are engaged in content worth knowing.

Student: Now let it sit here.

Narrator: These WHEA students are restoring an ancient fish pond, a project that combines anthropology, ecology, biology, community service, and manual labor.

Student: It's an old ancient incline pond from back in the day when Kamehameha ruled the Hawaiian Islands. And this was one of his personal ponds that used to hold fish in. This is where he got much of his fish supply for eating, and guppies were introduced a long time ago, and they've overrun the pond. And we're trying to restore the pond to its natural state, which is pristine.

Student: Cleaning out this pond is really important. it's really important to show the children of the future how back in the past that these ponds were used.

Teacher: He's been moved around all day, so he's hiding in there.

Narrator: The projects WHEA students participate in are as varied as the imagination of the students who design them. But most have a public service aspect, like this ecology education program for primary school kids.

C'mon, I can't breathe well.

She is so frightened because she can't have a trouble-free...

What a cruel world! Someone please help me!

What if don't want to? I guess I could try.

Narrator: For new teachers like Shari Harada-Shrai, WHEA's project-based learning approach offers an exciting challenge.

Shari: If somebody told me when I was student teaching that, you know, ten months from now you're going to be in the water snorkeling with your kids and taking data and trying to explain this, I'd be like, "No way!"

Student: There's a lot of different reasons to graph, whether it's dwarfing and that kind of stuff.

Shari: And I'm learning from my students. And that's the real gift. When you model, and then you show it to your other students that, "You know, I'm a learner, too. Not only a teacher, I'm a learner. And I love to learn." Then everybody's just in a whole learning community. [laughs]

Narrator: The learning community at WHEA ranges from special ed to gifted. and the project approach seems to work well at both ends of the spectrum.

Shari: This one particular student, she decided that she wanted to try this school out. And at the first semester, she just-- paperwork would come in, but it was real sloppy, no effort, hardly any journals.

Put numbers inside the tank, so it's like one, two, three, four.

Yes, ma'am.

Shari: The second semester, she has turned in everything. From a research paper to a literary critique, to her evidence folder, weekly paperwork. Always asking me and inquiring for help. You know, just the whole motivation turnaround is total and complete. And she keeps telling me, "Thank you, thank you. I love you." And I said, "No. Thank yourself. You did it. You pushed yourself.”

Narrator: The WHEA staff has developed partnerships with local companies, universities and community organizations recruiting project mentors and opening up career opportunities for students like Jared Willeford, who landed a job at a nearby microalgae farm.

Jared: I was really interested in what they were doing, and I caught on really fast, so they kind of integrated me into the process, and now I'm getting paid, and I'm moving up the field, so I'll be a technician pretty soon. In the future, maybe if I can get a farm, and I've already learned all the different fertilization methods, and things such as that, so I could set up my own system and kind of live off my own stuff, you know? Pretty much live off of what I've learned.

Narrator: Notice how they have those spot patterns on their back?

Student: Mm hm.

Mentor: That's totally unique.

Narrator: Mentors play a key role in many WHEA projects. Erin Rletow has been studying water quality issues, working with the staff at the Four Seasons Resort.

Mentor: We do a salinity test.

Erin: Got about a 26. How come it's so low?

Mentor: Well, it's low as compared with the ocean, which is about 34-35 parts per thousand, but we keep it low like that so that the fish can't reproduce.

Erin: Compared to books, magazines, articles, working with mentors has been my biggest source of information all throughout the three years that I've been at the school. And not only can you ask direct questions, and they can answer them, but they also give you more than what you asked for.

Mentor: The lone female. She's the biggest.

Narrator: Erin has been conducting an experiment for the past three years on a brackish water pond at the resort to see if the introduction of bacteria will improve water quality.

Erin: I love what I do. [laughs] And it's really exciting, and it feels good! Instead of-- compared to being where I was before, sitting in a classroom, four walls, lights, textbooks, desks. This is my classroom now. This is where I learn.

Narrator: Part of the learning process is demonstrating what you know. For Erin, that meant presenting her research findings to a panel of graduate students at the University of Hawaii on Oahu.

Erin: For those of you who aren't sure what incline pools are, they're pretty much landlocked brackish water ponds. There's three characteristics that really define a pool.

Erin: If you want to excel and you want to push yourself, there isn't any class in a public school that could give you what you can give yourself, and that's what the greatest thing is is because it's all you. I'm so blessed to have been able to go to this school. It's great.

Narrator: For more information on what works in public education, go to edutopia.org.

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Credits

Video Credits

Produced, Written, and Directed by

  • Ken Ellis

Associate Producer:

  • Leigh Iacobucci

Editor:

  • Karen Sutherland

Camera Crew:

  • John Dobovan
  • Ken Ellis
  • Lew Trusty

Underwater Photography:

  • Lew Trusty

Narrator:

  • Susan Blake

Intern:

  • Morgan Ho

Special thanks to

  • Cyanotech Corporation Four Seasons Resort
  • © 2001
  • The George Lucas Educational Foundation
  • All rights reserved.

Students develop and manage their own projects with guidance from mentors in this coastal high school's community.

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WHEA Electric Car: Project-Based Learning on Wheels

Project-Based Learning (PBL) on Wheels: Students Build an Electric Car
Video & Transcript

WHEA Electric Car: Project-Based Learning on Wheels (Transcript)

Student: Look at the thing roll, baby. Smooth as a baby's bottom.

Narrator: For the past five years, high schools from the islands of Hawaii have designed and built exotic electric vehicles, and raced them in the Electron Marathon. The team from the West Hawaii Explorations Academy on the Big Island, has won the race twice, and was gunning for another title in 2001.

Student: I'm driving it on our test road, and to give you an idea of what it's like, bumpy, it's a little warm, it's like a greenhouse in here.

Narrator: Each team receives a kit with parts like electric motors, chains and sprockets. They have to supply their own batteries and other parts, and can only spend 2,500 dollars to design and build their car.

Quinn: This wheel is mostly made by WHEA students. We didn't make the spokes, the nipples which are the little spoke nuts, or the rim, however, we did make the hub out of billet aluminum rod, and then I assembled-- I put the spokes onto the rim and tightened it all and trued it, so it's all balanced, so it won't wobble.

Narrator: The electric car project is one of five different projects Quinn is involved with at WHEA.

Quinn: I enjoy having a choice in what I do. It's not just work sheets every day, or something like that, it's hands on, and it's fun stuff, and it's good skills to have, also.

Narrator: One of WHEA's secret weapons is Bill McKown, a retired food executive who came up with the idea for the granola bar.

Quinn: Why is it sparking like that?

Bill: The capacitor is filling up.

Narrator: McKown now serves as a mentor on several WHEA projects.

Bill: I got into helping out the students with some projects, and the main one that we do right now, is an electric car project, which sort of fits my background, so it's very enjoyable for me, to be able to give back some of the skills that I have.

Quinn: This isn't really warm, so--

Bill: Yeah, right, but it shouldn't be warm back here.

It's a very enjoyable thing to be of service to other people, and I find it hard to imagine anything else that could be more enjoyable, frankly.

Narrator: In addition to designing and building their cars, each team must design and build a website which accounts for 30 percent of the team's total score. They also have to give an oral presentation of the car building project. Team members must answer one of three questions they've drawn at random.

Student: There's three questions. The first one is, what was the most difficult problem, how was it solved? The second one is, explain how math, science and language arts were integrated, and lastly, what was the good and bad of working together and how did it help or hurt the team?

Announcer: The drivers are psyched, the cars are ready, so let's take a look at the field. Car 911 is Castle High School.

Narrator: The race, which featured 20 entrants, is an energy efficiency competition, rewarding the car that completes the most laps.

Announcer: And Car Number Three, is West Hawaii Explorations Academy. The drivers are ready, the green flag is out, and the race is on. Waialua pulls out immediately and leaves everyone in the dust. Here comes Mid Pac, Car 11, and "Waiakea High School" Waiakea, Car 10, Castle in yellow, then Kahuku, and finally, Kohala. Amazing difference in body design.

Narrator: In the middle of the race, it began to rain, but the weather didn't deter the WHEA car, or the little green machine from Kohala. When the WHEA car pulled into the pits for the mandatory driver change, they discovered they had some brake problems.

Student: Brake pod. No, it's--

Student: Take the outside curve like you taught us, okay? Russell, watch this turn. Go way to the outside.

Announcer: At the 40 minute mark, Sacred Heart has abandoned its body and left it in the pit. They thought their body was rubbing on something and slowing them down.

Narrator: In the end, West Hawaii's sleek red machine fell four laps short of the green bug from Kohala High, but the WHEA team will be back next year on a mission to recapture the cup.

Quinn: I feel that we've learned from our mistakes from last year's race. We're going to work on the car a lot more, do the documentation a lot more, and we're really raring to get first place. I really think we can do it.

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Credits

Video Credits

Produced, Written, and Directed by

  • Ken Ellis

Associate Producer:

  • Leigh Iacobucci

Editor:

  • Karen Sutherland

Camera Crew:

  • John Dobovan
  • Lou Trusty

Narrator:

  • Susan Blake

Intern:

  • Morgan Ho

Additional footage courtesy of KITV4, Honolulu.


High school students learn a variety of academic, communication, and teamwork skills when they build and race a car for the Hawaiian Electric Electron Marathon.

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Project-Based Learning: An Overview
Video & Transcript

Student: We would place the dome right here, for instance.

Narrator: These sophomore geometry students in Seattle, have a problem. And they're excited about solving it.

Eeva: The problem that they have to solve, is how do you design a state of the art high school in the year 2050, on a particular site. Students are in teams of three to four, and they're in a design competition for a contract to build it.

Student: Here's the fire eliminator. This is a vacuum, there's water inside it.

Narrator: In Lackawanna, Pennsylvania, these fifth graders are designing a tool to put out fires in space.

Student: If you turn it on high, it sucks up the fireballs.

Narrator: In Newport News, Virginia, these second graders are investigating cystic fibrosis.

Student: One of our students has CF, and we're trying to learn about CF, to see what it is, how it works.

Narrator: In Hawaii, high school students are building electric cars, and racing them. These students have something in common. They are energized, focused, and challenged, determined to do their best.

Student: Yeah, yeah, put something right there.

Narrator: They are collaborating in hands-on, real world projects, studying everything from robots to worms, learning lessons they'll never forget and having fun in the process.

Student: We did a experiment on dead worms. We smelled them, and they didn't smell good.

Narrator: Worms are just one of the subjects students explore in depth at Newsome Park, a K through five science magnet school in Newport News, Virginia, that has embraced the concept of project based learning.

Teacher: See the different type of fish down here?

Narrator: Each class picks a topic to study for the semester. They then plan a research phase which includes field trips to gather information.

Student: Transportation for Effects.

Narrator: At the conclusion of the project, they share their findings in oral presentations, digital slide shows and display boards which are viewed and critiqued by their parents and their peers.

Peter: Project based learning was really the delivery model that we felt would allow kids to learn, and really learn about what they want to learn about. I mean, so many years, we've been pumping kids full of stuff that we think is appropriate, and really, in many instances, maybe that was successful. But it's much more successful and exhilarating, when kids have the input that we allow them to have here at Newsome Park.

Student: How do you spell, Mineral?

Narrator: Putting students at the center of the learning process is the key to transforming the educational system, according to world renowned mathematician and educator, Seymour Papert.

Seymour: Well, first thing you have to do is give up the idea of curriculum. Curriculum meaning you have to learn this on a given day. Replace it by a system where you learn this where you need it. So that means, you've got to put kids in a position where they're going to use the knowledge that they're getting.

Student: Put numbers inside the tank, so it's one, two, three, four, five.

Narrator: At the West Hawaii Explorations Charter School, on the Kona Coast of Hawaii, students design their own research projects and pursue several of them over the course of the school year.

Student: Now let it sit here.

Narrator: They're involved with everything from engineering electric racing cars..

Student: It's like a greenhouse in here.

Narrator: To surveying coral reef ecosystems.

Erin: I've got about a 26.

Narrator: Erin Rietow has been studying the health of several brackish water ponds, and in the process, is learning much more than she did in a traditional classroom setting.

Erin: I love what I do, and it's really exciting, and it feels good, instead of-- compared to being where I was before, sitting in a classroom, four walls, lights, textbooks, desks. This is my classroom now. This is where I learn.

Bruce: Most students never find out what science is. They hate it because it's memorizing all this stuff. So project based learning gives everybody a chance to sort of mimic what scientists do, and that's exciting and it's fun, if it's done well.

Student: Going down, all right.

Student: Wow, that's a drop.

Narrator: New technology is the driving force behind the project based learning revolution. For Mott Hall, a science and technology magnet school in New York City's Harlem District, the paradigm shift began when each student received a laptop computer.

Mirian: And when we put the laptops and the technology directly into the hands of teachers and students, we started to move from a more traditional instructional model, to a project base and constructivist model, and we really embraced this as a school community, because we feel that, what is important for our students, is for them to be directors and managers of their own learning.

Teacher: What kind of poem would you make out of that one?

Student: A silly one.

Mirian: We really wanted to have children collaborate with each other, have children engage in multidisciplinary types of projects that were longer, that were more complex.

Student: Using the graph paper on the computer, I've created a scale for my kite.

Mirian: We feel this is more authentic, we feel this is more challenging work for our students, and we have seen that it has yielded very positive results.

Seymour: They idea of learning experientially and through projects, it's been around forever. I mean, the 19th-- John Dewey was saying that, Piaget, anyone you can-- you name it. Why did they not have more powerful influence? Because of the limitations of the knowledge technology that we had in the past. But now with the computer, somebody who's interest is in graphic arts, can use mathematics as an instrument to produce shapes and forms and motions on computer screens.

Student: I'm going to go online, because I'm researching my topic, which is, how to say, Kite, in different languages.

Seymour: We have infinitely greater ways of connecting the particular interests that an individual human being might have, with the powerful ideas. And so they really can learn knowledge by using it.

Teacher: These are Angel Fish.

Narrator: Schools all over the country have found creative ways to use community resources and have formed partnerships with local institutions to create exciting projects.

Announcer: The drivers are psyched, the cars are ready, so let's take a look at the field.

Narrator: In Hawaii, the Island's power company sponsors the Electron Marathon Car Race. Every year, students from the Islands design and build electric cars, and race them in an energy efficiency competition.

Student: Do you think it's time that we transfer them again?

Student: Transfer them.

Student: Definitely?

Narrator: And in Manhattan, a partnership between Mott Hall and the City College of New York, allowed these eighth graders to work on their class science project, while advancing vital research on single celled organisms.

Susan: They'll talk to you about these species of microorganisms, just as if they were the scientists in the labs, and that's exactly what we want, for them to feel, not necessarily they're going to become scientists, but if that's what they want to do, they can do it.

Student: I think it's a privilege to be here, and I found it to be really fun, and it expanded my horizons like, now I can see that I have more choices for a job.

Student: Okay, so now count them.

Narrator: Some critics of project based learning voice concerns about the challenge of assessment and the maintenance of academic standards, but proponents like Seymour Papert insist that project based learning is the surest path to knowledge in the 21st Century.

Seymour: Standardization is a guarantee of no standards, because the standard I would like to see is thinking differently, is the individual having the right to pursue individual interest, and this is where you'll get deep and wonderful growth of individuals.

Erin: If you want to excel, and you want to push yourself, there isn't any class in a public school that could give you what you can give yourself, and that's what the greatest thing is, is because it's all you. I'm so blessed to have been able to go this school. It's great.

Student: What's the temperature of the water?

Seymour: Imagine if kids from the beginning could be learning through developing their interests, through things that they're in love with, that they cared about. You know, just imagine, yeah.

Narrator: For more information on, What Works in Public Education, go to edutopia.org.

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Credits

Video Credits

Produced, Written, and Directed by

  • Ken Ellis

Associate Producers:

  • Leigh Iacobucci
  • Diane Curtis
  • Roberta Furger
  • Sara Armstrong

Editor:

  • Karen Sutherland

Camera Crew:

  • Alfred Shapiro
  • William Turnley
  • John Dobovan
  • Jeff McGall
  • Gabriel Miller
  • Lou Trusty

Narrator:

  • Susan Blake

Intern:

  • Morgan Ho

Seymour Papert, a distinguished professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is among a growing group of scholars who support project-based learning.

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Mott Hall School: STEM Projects Encourage Students to Excel

Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Projects Encourage Students to Excel
Video & Transcript

Mott Hall School: STEM Projects Encourage Students to Excel (Transcript)

Student: There's kids and there's a dog. It is sunny, there is no fog. There is a shadow--

Narrator: These fifth graders are presenting poems they wrote to a company the digital photographs they took.

Student: I'm gonna go online because I'm researching my topic, which is how to say "kite" in different languages.

Narrator: In this fifth grade class, students are researching and designing kites.

Going down all right.

Wow, that's--

That's a drop.

Narrator: And these sixth graders are conducting experiments to determine the heat of fusion for various objects.

If it is melting at ninety-three point five--

Narrator: These challenging projects are part of a typical day at Mott Hall, a fourth through eighth grade science, math and technology magnet school in the heart of New York's Harlem district.

Mirian: Traditionally, minority students have not been encouraged or inspired to go into the professional fields of mathematics, science or technology. So we feel that our mission here at Mott Hall is really to provide a very strong academic foundation for these students to go onto higher learning.

Student: Matter exists in different phases. Three of these are solid, liquid and gas. The other two are Bose-Einstein condensate and plasma, but these two are not common on this planet.

Narrator: In nineteen ninety-five, the school participated in a pilot program that eventually provided laptop computers to every teacher and student.

Mirian: And when we put the laptops and the technology directly into the hands of teachers and students, we started to move from a more traditional instructional model to a project based and constructivist model, and we really embrace this as a school community, because we feel that what is important for our students is for them to be directors and managers of their own learning.

What kind of poem would you make out of that one?

A silly one.

Mirian: We really wanted to have children collaborate with each other, have children engaged in multidisciplinary types of projects that were longer, that were more complex.

What's the temperature of the water?

The water, measure the temperature.

Mirian: We feel this is more authentic, we feel this is more challenging work for our students, and we have seen that it had yielded very positive results for our students.

Student: Using the graph paper on the compouter, I've created a scale for my kite.

Sandra: At this point in math, we're studying ratio and proportion and they're difficult concepts, especially for a ten year old.

Narrator: For teachers like Sandra Skea, who teaches math, science and social studies, the most successful projects cover the whole curriculum and involve new technologies.

Sandra: For this project, the laptops proved to be especially useful in creating the scale drawings, in doing the research, and be able to make revisions, in order that they could set up ratio and proportion and see instantly what the effects were. We have the wireless, so it was easy for us to go online, get additional information. It's going to make the whole idea of creating our website easy, because we've got most of the work already done and it's just formatting it and shooting it up to the net.

Narrator: Skea believes projects bring out the best in her students. She was particularly impressed with the progress of one of her students who wrote a story about Ben Franklin's kite.

Student: He was going to make me get shocked by the lightning. "No," I screamed, without saying a word. He took me outside and flew me in the air. I flew rapidly through the sky, hoping not to get struck. Then Ben screamed, "Make me proud!"

Sandra: Once he became involved with projects, his interest in school really grew, and all his potential just evolved, it just exploded. And now he consistently does is work and has consistently done well, and he's no longer afraid to use his imagination, to take risks, to try new things and I credit a lot of that to the projects that he's been able to get involved with.

Narrator: At Mott Hall, the learning does not stop when classes end. After school offerings include tai chi and chess.

Jerald: Chess does a lot for young people and I think the most important thing, it makes them responsible for their decisions. Every move has a consequence, and you can see from the first year of chess, kids being a lot more aware of the moves they do.

Narrator: Practice like this has helped make Mott Hall national chess champioins. It also dovetails neatly with the school's educational philosophy.

Jerald: I'm not even really interested always in the right answer. If they come up with the right answer, that's great, but I'm interested in the investigation. Again, that interior dialog, "Well, what were you thinking about?"

Did you have some growth or no?

Mm, yeah, it was decreasing.

Narrator: The school has also formed partnerships with nearby institutions like City College of New York, where these eighth graders are working on their class science project, and advancing vital research on single celled organisms.

Megan: When they first came, of course, this was all completely new to them, so they didn't know about foraminifera, not that I'd expect them to. They didn't know about dinoflagellates, not that I would expect them to. They were interested though in corollary ecosystems. They decided on their own that they wanted to do the light variation, so I helped them, you know, set up a sort of experimental protocol. And then once I showed them how to actually use the instruments, it was amazing. They just were able to do all the counts, totally unsupervised, and when they showed me their board, I was really impressed, because they had found all sorts of pictures and they put all the graphs together. Their data tables, they had everything lined up, you know, absolutely perfectly.

Do you think it's time that we transferred them again?

Transfer.

Definitely?

Yeah.

Susan: They'll talk to you about these species of microorganisms just as if they were the scientists in the labs, and that's exactly what we want, for them to feel not necessarily they're gonna become scientists, but if that's what they want to do, they can do it.

This one, right?

And that one.

Okay.

Student: I think it's a privilege to be here, and I found it to be really fun, and it expanded my horizons, like now I can see that I have more choices for a job.

Megan: My experience with this program has been that project based learning is absolutely essential, because through the projects, the students became more interested. They took their own initiative. Had this been from a book or an article, I don’t believe that would've happened.

Press collect.

Marc: It's not just project learning. It's really problem solving, it's decision making, it's the opportunity to present your ideas, to evaluate your ideas. There are rooms that you can walk into and it looks like chaos, you know. It's rooms full of kids, moving in all directions, sharing work, but it's very productive. It's productive noise, it's noise of ideas being shared.

Sixty-six point five.

Marc: Of products being produced.

Let me see that.

Marc: There's an excitement in that type of classroom. Anyone who enters the room is learning.

Whoa, from the seesaw, I think it went up and down.

Narrator: For more information on what works in public education, go to Edutopia.org

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Credits

Video Credits

Produced, Written, and Directed by

  • Ken Ellis

Associate Producers:

  • Roberta Furger
  • Leigh Iacobucci

Editor:

  • Karen Sutherland

Camera:

  • William Turnley
  • Gabriel Miller

Narrator:

  • Susan Blake

Intern:

  • Morgan Ho
A commitment to projects and widespread use of laptop computers has spelled success for middle school students at this New York City math, science, and technology academy.

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From Worms to Wall Street: Projects Prompt Active, Authentic Learning

From Worms to Wall Street: Projects Prompt Active, Authentic Learning
Video & Transcript

All: Nobody likes me, everybody hates me, guess I'll go eat worms. Long thin slimy ones, short fat juicy ones, itsy bitsy fuzzy wuzzy worms.

Narrator: These first graders at Newsome Park Elementary dig worms, and they've designed an entire project around them with the help of their teacher, Cathy Huemer.

Oh, there's one.

Cathy: You wanna pick it up, Cameron?

When they wanted to do animals, they had idea. "Let's do snakes, let's do you know, horses, let's do dogs, you know." And so I keep raising question to them, "Well, why? What is it that you wanna know?" Well, they wanna know about, "Well, where do these animals live?" So I said to them, "Are we really gonna be able to go look for snakes, you know? That might not be possible. Can you think of something else that might be similar?" And someone just said, "Let's do worms." Said, "Okay, we what do we know about worms? What do we need to find out about worms?" Phase one, which leads us into phase two, which is the field work, the actual work that they're doing, whether it's field trips, lab work, experiments.

Student: We did a experiment on dead worms. We smelled 'em and they didn't smell good. And we had to pick 'em up and feel the vein.

Narrator: Worms are just one of the subjects students explore in depth at Newsome Park, a K through five science magnet school in Newport News, Virginia, that has embraced the concept of project based learning.

See the different types of fish that're here?

Narrator: Each class picks a topic to study for the semester. They then plan a research phase which includes field trips to gather information.

Student: Transportation, four facts.

Narrator: At the conclusion of the project, they share their findings in oral presentations, digital slideshows, and display boards which are viewed and critiqued by their parents and their peers.

Peter: Project based learning was really the delivery model that we felt would allow kids to learn, and really learn about what they wanna learn about. I mean, so many years, we've been pumping kids full of stuff that we think is appropriate, and really, in many instances, maybe that was successful, but it's much more successful and exhilarating when kids have the input that we allow them to have here at Newsome Park.

How do you spell "minerals?"

Narrator: Students here have chosen to study everything from space flight to homelessness. This first grade class decided to explore cystic fibrosis, a disease affecting one of their classmates.

One of our students has CF and we're trying to learn about CF to see what it is, how it works. Mucus starts getting into the person's lungs and pancreas. And we hope to find out that there's a cure for CF.

Narrator: Students use programs like PowerPoint and a series of thinking maps to turn good project concepts into exemplary work products.

Peter: The students of today are really more in tune with everything that they have coming in at them visually, so using the technology to represent their learning has actually increased the quality of their work.

Narrator: Even with the latest technology tools, project based learning can be challenging for teachers.

Patty: -- for us, and so we came up with some questions for Miss Harbuck and she's coming in today to tell us more, isn't she?

Yep.

Oh good, okay.

Patty: It's easier to teach out of a textbook, where this day it tells me to do this, and this day it tells me to do that. So in a way, you've gotta be willing to work a little harder too to do it this way. Even though it looks like the kids are doing all the hard work, there's a lotta planning that goes on behind it to make sure that the work is there for them.

Do we have anybody in this classroom with asthma?

All: Yes.

Patty: Yes, we do. And--

Narrator: Since several of Miss Vreeland's students have asthma, they're studying pets, focusing on pets that don't make asthma worse. As part of every research project, students seek out experts, like a guest speaker from the local hospital..

Teacher: Your lungs are made up of different kinds of tissue.

Patty: They know that they don't have all the answers, and it's okay. They also know that Miss V doesn’t have all the answers, and it doesn't bother her a bit. And so we sit back and we go, "Okay, well who can we call, who can we ask?"

Thank you, thank you.

Narrator: At lunchtime, students get to test their social skills and basic math, selling everything from Walkathon pledges to marigolds.

Student: We have marigolds, we have two of these left, and mixed flowers. Those just all type of flowers, like this flower, this whole patch, it'll probably be like that when they grow.

Narrator: The plant business grew out of a class investigation into the stock market.

Robert: We talked about what the stock market was. We actually invested in fancy stocks. We were thinking about investing in some penny stocks and seeing how much money we could make on the stock exchange. However, that became repetitive and truthfully, somewhat boring.

What you wanna buy?

Narrator: Instead, the class decided to create their own business. They bought seeds, grew the plants and made sales brochures, funding the entire operation through the sale of flower power stock.

Robert: We ended up going around, we sold ten cent shares of our stock in our company and we actually raised over seventy-five dollars.

Narrator: But the success of the fourth grade plant projects sowed the seeds of another lesson in real life learning. It led to the mounting of a hostile takeover attempt by Miss Shields' fifth graders.

Student: Miss Shields' classes, the fifth grade, is planning to take and buy all the stock and leave them for like five percent of their stock and take over their business. So we'll be in total control of their business.

Narrator: The process of learning project based lessons has had a positive impact on everything from test scores to classroom behavior.

Peter: Our test scores have improved, mainly I think because of the fact that we've connected the learning to real world problems, and the integration of technology has helped the students to actually product quality products. So that's the reward, and to me, it's been probably the most rewarding way of teaching and learning that I've experienced in my thirty years.

It's a red wiggler.

Narrator: For more information on what works in public education, go to Edutopia.org

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Credits

Video Credits

Produced, Written, and Directed by

  • Ken Ellis

Associate Producers:

  • Diane Curtis
  • Leigh Iacobucci

Camera Crew:

  • Alfred Shapiro
  • Jeff McGall

Editor:

  • Karen Sutherland

Narrator:

  • Susan Blake

Intern:

  • Morgan Ho
You can't tear students at Newsome Park Elementary School away from their schoolwork when it involves in-depth investigations with real-world applications.

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Teacher-Development Overview: A Survey of Top Programs
Video & Transcript

Teacher-Development Overview: A Survey of Top Programs (Transcript)

Teacher: Okay, ladies and gentlemen, let's rock and roll.

Narrator: A good teacher is a precious commodity.

Teacher: That’s a pretty cool way to encrypt this.

Narrator: There just aren't enough to go around, especially in urban and rural districts.

Teacher: Do you think these Cray computers could break this?

Student: In about two seconds.

Teacher: About two seconds. Do you know--

Narrator: Schools of education have come under fire for turning out teachers with inadequate content knowledge, insufficient classroom experience, and few technological skills.

Teacher: And my favorite matrix, obviously, is two negative seventeen eleven--

Narrator: But there's a quiet revolution underway in schools of education across the country.

Teacher: Okay, so we're getting a lot of sugars--

Narrator: A movement that puts student teachers in classrooms early, and supports their development with peer groups, mentor teachers and even extraordinary students.

Randy: This represents the bone in your head, and I would be the earth and that's about the right scale, all right?

Narrator: At the University of Virginia's Curry School of Education, incoming students begin a five year program by studying core subjects and discovering engaging ways to teach them.

Randy: We've got your head is the earth, this is the moon, and see if you can work out the phases by having the moon orbit the earth.

I wanted there to be an opportunity for students to experience the phenomena in a classroom. They have a basic understanding of their content, or their subject area. They're pretty green when it comes to knowing how to teach that, and I wanted to model how you can start something that really engages students.

What is it about this activity that made it effective?

Student: I think anything where you make the learner like a really active part, definitely it makes it relate to them. So I think anything where you can do that, like change your perspective, just makes it all that more fun and interesting.

Teacher: You find that picture that you wanted.

Narrator: Curry students get into classrooms early and often in the program. As sophomores, they spend most of the year observing mentor teachers at work.

Teacher: Thursday. Can you see my tongue does something different?

Sandra: Watching an experienced master teacher work with those children, seeing how the children react and seeing how the teacher adjusts with each child, and with the group of children, it's totally invaluable. I mean, you can't just imagine this. You have to see it at work.

Teacher: Try doing file, quit and see if that works.

Narrator: Later in the Curry program, students get involved in one on one tutoring. They also develop and present some class lessons before honing their teaching skills as full time student teachers.

Jessica: I want you guys to think of a person who you think exemplifies, you know, you like the way they present--

It looks so easy until you get on in there and do it, and then you're like, "Whoa, this is so hard." I mean, getting ready for a lesson, hours go into it. Classroom management, I mean, that is a huge issue.

When you present information that--

Mary: There's nothing like walking into a classroom with twenty, twenty-five, thirty active students, and you've got to teach them. And the first thing you've got to do is to be able to manage the classroom, because if you can't manage a classroom, you're going to teach very much of anything. And the second thing you've got to do is to be able to present the lesson or lessons in a way that the children understand, they can learn and they'll want to learn.

Jessica: And then who's going to do the biography.

Mary: There's no place to do that better than to actually be in a classroom with a group of students.

Teacher: We have kind of a full agenda tonight, so we're going to go right ahead and get started.

Narrator: Another teacher trainer program that stresses extensive classroom work is Colorado State University's Project Promise, a yearlong graduate degree program for people who are changing careers to enter teaching.

Carrie: And I really like love these kids, and I finally had that feeling. Like for a full hour, I'll have that feeling, you know.

Narrator: For Carrie Hanson, it meant making the adjustment from the solitary life of a chemical engineer, to the collaborative enterprise of teaching high school science.

Carrie: Ionic compounds, from now on, you're never going to look at the label the same, right? So speaking of ionic compounds, we've got this cool card game that you've seen before.

Narrator: Project Promise students are exposed to the classroom teaching environment just three weeks into the program, but they don't go it alone. They are constantly monitored and evaluated by their peers.

Teacher: How do you think it went?

Teacher: I was really excited about the students.

Narrator: Their mentor teachers.

Teacher: It worked well, and it worked well for review.

Narrator: And by one of the program's directors.

Teacher: Your transition from the food labels to the game was a little rough.

Emily: Peer review is very important. You have the advantage of having people who are very close to the situation. It's not somebody who taught ten or fifteen years ago. I mean, you're right there, you just did it. And if you're working with a mentor teacher or an experienced teacher or college professor, that interaction can be very effective in learning how to teach.

Steve: So I'm going to put up a code on the board. I want to see if anybody can break it.

Narrator: While half of the teachers entering the profession nationwide leave teaching during their first five years, the retention rate for Project Promise grads, like Steve Sayers, is 80 percent.

Steve: That is a word.

Narrator: He credits the program's success to the camaraderie of peers and staff.

Steve: You know when they walk into the room or walk down the hall, they will come up to you and say, "How are things going, what can I do?" and they are there for you. Any phone call and they respond. So the support is there.

Narrator: In addition to mastering core content and teaching skills, today's teachers are confronted with the challenge of teaching in the digital age.

When it comes to acquiring vital technology skills, pre-service teachers need all the help they can get, and at Washington Middle School in Olympia, Washington, help comes from seventh graders.

Student: The title's here, and that font is good for the titles 'cause it's big. It's big enough that you can distinguish the letters, and--

Teacher: Okay, do you see anything you would change?

Student: Yeah, there's no home link here.

Teacher: Okay.

Student: I notice that on your previous page, like you have on here, and that's really good, but some browsers don't have back buttons, so they have to retype the URL, which is really annoying.

Narrator: Begun in nineteen ninety-six, the Generation Y program pairs tech savvy grade schoolers with tech challenged teachers, to help them integrate new technology into their lesson plans.

Teacher: Right now, what we have is a couple websites for our research purposes, but that's about it, so what kind of suggestions do you think you might have as far as wording to use technology.

Student: Well, like for a presentation about how they did a PowerPoint would be a good one.

Narrator: Now operating in more than forty states, this elegantly simple concept was the brainchild of Olympia school district's technology coordinator, Dennis Harper.

Dennis: I was a former university college of education trainer of pre-service teachers, and typically, a lot of the instruction they get are from professors who haven't been in a classroom in twenty years. There's not a teacher in the United States that actually went to K-twelve schools when the world wide web was in existence. So teachers don't realize, you know, the resources. They don't realize how sharp these kids are. They don't realize the fact that for the first time in history now, we have students knowing more than their teachers about something that's really central and important to society.

Student: And web pages, there's just like endless possibilities.

Narrator: While more experienced Gen Y kids help student teachers with tech infused lessons, fourth graders help their classroom teachers learn new skills, like video editing.

Teacher: What's a transition?

Student: Transitions are like, you can fade in and fade out, and you can like a dial--

Dennis: More than ninety-eight percent of the thousands of teachers that have been involved with this program have said they preferred learning from students than learning from adults. Teachers go into teaching 'cause they like to work with kids, and that's what makes this model successful.

Teacher: Then what happens?

Teacher: This looks pretty easy. Is it rally this easy?

Narrator Whether it's teaching tech skills or a classroom discipline, the new model for teacher education is all about collaboration between students and their mentors of any age, with whom they share the joy of teaching.

Teacher: The last couple of weeks, what started to happen is that I feel like I stopped hanging in there and started really teaching well, and it's a really cool feeling.

Narrator: For more information on what works in public education, go to Edutopia.org

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Credits

Video Credits

Produced and Directed by

  • Ken Ellis
  • Jon Shenk, Actual Films

Content Staff:

  • Sara Armstrong
  • Diane Curtis
  • Roberta Furger
  • Paula Monsef
  • Mark Sargent

Associate Producer:

  • Leigh Iacobucci
  • Megan Mylan

Editor:

  • Karen Sutherland

Post Production:

  • Nathaniel Higgs
  • Morgan Ho
  • Deirdre May

Camera Crew:

  • Sam Allen
  • Jon Shenk
  • Robert O.Weller
  • Michael Curtiss
  • Kathryn Peterson
  • Paul Rusnak
  • Eric Williams
  • Wes Sullivan
  • Nathan Clap

Narrator:

  • Kris Welch

Original Music:

  • Ed Bogas

What happens in schools of education does make a difference in the classroom.

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Teachers Get Tech Tips from Students
Video & Transcript

Craig: James is ready to take his project out to Mrs. Wright's class and try it out.

Narrator: This class at Washington Middle School in Olympia, Washington, is like hundreds of others across the country, where teachers impart vital new technology skills to their students.

Teacher: Creative or…

Narrator: But in this Generation Y class, the seventh-graders are doing the teaching…

Student: That font is good for the titles, because it's big. It's big enough that you can distinguish the letters, but when it gets to…

Narrator: …and the teachers are learning.

Teacher: You see anything you would change?

Student: Yeah. There's no home link here. I noticed that on your previous page like you have on here -- and that's really good, but some browsers don't have Back buttons, so you have to retype the URL, which is really annoying.

Narrator: Begun in 1996, the Generation Y program pairs tech-savvy grade-schoolers with tech-challenged teachers to help them integrate new technology into their lesson plans.

Teacher: Right now what we have is a couple Web sites for research purposes, but that's about it, so what kinds of suggestions do you think you might have as far as where to infuse technology?

Student: Well, for a presentation about how we did it in PowerPoint would be a good one, because it's…

Narrator: Now operating in over 40 states, this elegantly simple concept was the brainchild of Olympia School District's technology coordinator, Dennis Harper.

Dennis: I was a former university college of education trainer of pre-service teachers, and typically a lot of the instruction they get are from professors who haven't been in a classroom in 20 years. There's not a teacher in the United States that actually went to K-12 schools when the World Wide Web was in existence, so teachers don't realize the resources. They don't realize how sharp these kids are. They don't realize that for the first time in history now we have students knowing more than their teachers about something that's really central and important to society.

Student: And Web pages are just endless possibilities.

Teacher: What age do you recommend that, the Web pages?

Student: Web pages? Well, we got into it a little bit in fifth grade, but you basically don't really do very much with it until middle school and up. You can use PowerPoint with younger age groups and keep it simple, or you can use it with older age groups and make it a little fancier.

Heather: It's been really helpful for me to get a student's perspective on how to infuse technology in my classroom. I'm actually learning from these girls here about where to put technology, how it's used and what's in the classrooms right now. It aligns well with my teaching philosophy in that I need to teach what they need to know, and if they need to learn something, we need to move in that direction, and I don't know unless I'm talking to them and working with them.

Teacher: So what we have is Sara and Hanako are suddenly going to turn into Ms. Conrad, the partner teacher, and Sara is meeting with her for the first time. Listen carefully for what…

Narrator: Gen. Y students also practice communication skills and teaching methods so they can better assist pre-service teachers with lesson planning.

Student: Soundtrack and transitions.

Teacher: What's a transition?

Student: Transitions are you can fade in and fade out and just like the dials…

Narrator: Younger Gen. Y kids like these fourth-graders help their classroom teachers learn new skills like video editing.

Teacher: Are there sound effects that you could use?

Student: Yeah. We have to go into a CD, and then you export it to iMovie and you can use it for the school news.

Dennis: The overwhelming majority, more than 98 percent of the thousands of teaches that have been involved with this program have said they prefer learning from students than learning from adults. Teachers go into teaching because they like to work with kids, and that's what makes this model successful.

Teacher: I want to see you guys in it. Ready?

Narrator: Even though they have to get up early to attend Gen. Y class before school each day, these kids return to the program year after year, eager to teach and learn.

Student: …or if you want to cut it smaller, this will make it smaller.

Teacher: Crop it.

DeAnne: It's absolutely joyful to work with these kids. The more power you give them, the more empowered they become. They take responsibility for their own learning. They get very excited about having authentic, purposeful reason to be at school and authentic ways of helping their teachers. They take charge of their learning and it carries across into all of the disciplines. They just really feel that it's important for them to be here, that they are the people who matter in the school.

Student: Headings go with the graphics.

Craig: So what I want you to watch for as James shows his first two or three slides is: What do you think are the things…

Narrator: Gen. Y instructors like Craig Costello see more than a win-win proposition at work. They see schools being transformed by the process of kids training their teachers.

Craig: We've got teachers who are interested in education because they're about to become teachers, students who are interested in the educational process because they've just had to teach a lesson for the first time and realized suddenly how difficult it is, and experienced teachers who realize they can't figure out the technology unless they get some help from somebody, so when we meet in that common area, suddenly we've got something to talk about together, and the whole culture of our school has changed in an easy way. It hasn't been teachers feeling like, "I've got to be dragged and pulled into this technology," kind of thing. They've got their students working with them over time on a project, and then suddenly they have the skills, and it was kind of a painless way of getting the skills.

Teacher: Then what happens?

Teacher: This looks pretty easy. Is it ever this easy?

Narrator: For more information on what works in public education, go to edutopia.org.

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Credits

Video Credits

Produced, Written, and Directed by

  • Ken Ellis

Director of Content:

  • Sara Armstrong

Associate Producer:

  • Leigh Iacobucci

Editor:

  • Karen Sutherland

Camera Crew:

  • Robert O. Weller
  • Michael Curtiss

Postproduction:

  • Nathaniel Higgs
  • Morgan Ho
  • Deirdre May

Narrator:

  • Kris Welch
Upper elementary and middle school students help veteran and prospective teachers include technology in their lessons to enhance student learning.

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Curry School of Education: Early Classroom Exposure Improves Teacher Preparation

Preparing Aspiring New Teachers: Lessons from Curry School of Education
Video & Transcript

Early Classroom Exposure Improves Teacher Preparation (Transcript)

Randy Bell: Be careful. I don’t want you to think that I'm saying that lecturing is wrong. There's a place for all different modes of instruction.

Voice Over: For decades, America's schools of education have spent countless hours lecturing students on teaching theory, leaving many of them ill prepared for the realities they'll face in today's classrooms. Today, prospective teachers are learning as much from working with students as they are from working with college professors. And in places like the University of Virginia's Curry school program, they will graduate with a solid grounding in their academic subject matter, and the teaching know how to make concepts like the Doppler effect come alive in the classroom.

Randy Bell: Now what I wanna do is toss it around the room, and I want you folks to notice the sound as it's approaching or going away from you, all right? Don't hurt anybody.

I wanted there to be an opportunity for students to experience the phenomena in a classroom. They have a basic understanding of their content or their subject area. They're pretty green when it comes to knowing how to teach that. And I wanted to model how you could start something that really engages students

Teacher 1: We were trying to look at if we could make [inaudible].

We set up--

Voice Over: At Curry, students get into real classrooms with real kids, early and often. Sophomore year is generally limited to observing in classrooms. Later in the program, students get involved in one on one tutoring.

Teacher 2: And try doing file, quit, and see if that works.

Voice Over: They also develop and present some class lessons before honing their teaching skills as full time student teachers.

Jessica Ozimek: I want you guys to think of a person who you think exemplifies-- you know, you like the way they present-- they're a good actor or actress, or they're a good speaker.

It looks so easy, until you get in there and do it, and then you're like, "Whoa, this is so hard." I mean, getting ready for a lesson, hours go into it. Classroom management, I mean, that is a huge issue.

When you present information, that presents information--

Mary Hatwood Futrell: There's nothing like walking into a classroom of twenty, twenty five, thirty active students and you've got to teach them. And the first thing you've got to do is to be able to manage the classroom, because if you can't manage a classroom, you're not gonna teach very much of anything.

And the second thing you've gotta do is to be able to present the lesson in a way that the children understand they can learn and they'll want to learn. There's no place to do that better than to actually be in a classroom with a group of students.

Jessica Ozimek: -- to decide which piece of artwork each person's gonna do and then who's gonna do the biography.

Virginia Coffey: You find that picture that you wanted.

Voice Over: Kindergarten teacher, Virginia Coffey, serves as a mentor for Curry students like Alexa Kane. Coffey graduated from Curry before it began to emphasize early classroom exposure, which, she feels, is essential for success.

Virginia Coffey: It's a very sink or swim profession, and so I think it's valuable that Curry has chosen to put them in earlier and give them more exposure over a period of time.

How much time do lawyers get and how much time to medical doctors get to work under supervision?

But I think it's the same in anything you do, where the more you do it, the better you get because of that experience.

Everybody: -- run, run, as fast as you can. You can't catch me, I'm the gingerbread man.

Kid 1 on video: Kenny, if you weren't so dumb, we'd be done by now.

Kid 2 on video: Calm down, Leon. Just 'cause you did all the work on this assignment doesn't mean you're better than us.

Voice Over: To extend actual classroom experiences, Curry uses multimedia technology to offer the next best thing, virtual classrooms.

Teacher 1 on video: Don't forget to work on your project.

Voice Over: Developed by Curry faculty members, CaseNEX presents case studies of teaching situations, combining video recreations, comments by experts and video conferencing capability, delivered online.

Teacher 2 on video: Okay, Edith, what's up?

Teacher 3 on video: There have been several reports about your unwillingness to use the technology that's available to you for your class. Now to some parents, that's very important.

Teacher 2: I have too much to teach now to try and incorporate video games and the internet--

Bob McNergney: If I look at this and I say, "Yikes! This is something I might have to deal with while I'm out there," then I'm gonna give it my all. And so we're trying to prepare people, edge them a little bit closer to what it's really like out there, and up their chances for being successful.

Voice Over: CaseNEX allows diverse groups of students to share their views on common teaching dilemmas.

Student 3: I don't know. There's these two sides to that issue, so what do you think of that?

Voice Over: For this case, a Curry class links up with students at Hampton University.

Marsha Gartland: We set up the video conferencing camera and using iVisit, we saw each other online.

Student 4: Okay, I agree with what your student said.

I thought that was really interesting, being that--

Marsha Gartland: Then we brought up some of the things that we really wanted to delve deeper into and challenge each other's ideas on more.

Rudy Ford: -- the first time I saw that case got my mind working overtime--

When you're able to take a look at another culture, another school, another neighborhood, much easier. And form partnerships with people through the internet and email, that opened lines of communication that haven't been open before.

One of our students has commented. Is this a good time for me to share her comment?

Marsha Gartland: Please do.

Randy Ford: Okay, she--

As the technology becomes more commonplace in society, I think more people will be talking frankly with each other and that's got to improve, both teaching and learning and society.

Voice Over: With the combination of technology training and early classroom exposure, Curry is helping promising teacher candidates achieve their full potential.

Randy Bell: I know you all have the potential to be the kind of teacher that can change students' lives and make students enjoy subjects that they never thought they could enjoy, or that they could have success in before.

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Credits

Video Credits

Produced and Directed by

  • Ken Ellis
  • Jon Shenk, Actual Films

Director of Content:

  • Sara Armstrong

Associate Producers:

  • Leigh Iacobucci
  • Megan Mylan

Editor:

  • Karen Sutherland

Camera Crew:

  • Jon Shenk
  • Paul Rusnak
  • Eric Williams
  • Wes Sullivan
  • Nathan Clap

Post Production:

  • Nathaniel Higgs, Morgan Ho, Deirdre May

Narrator:

  • Kris Welch

At the University of Virginia, aspiring teachers are well prepared by working directly in classrooms and using the latest technology.

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Social and Emotional Learning in Action

Social and Emotional Learning in Action
Video & Transcript

Social and Emotional Learning in Action (Transcript)

Sarah: Basically what I want you to know is what people say to us and how other people treat us kind of shapes what we think about ourselves. And I want to share with you a story. One day Maria woke up…

Narrator: Sarah Button is about to tear her heart out in front of fifth graders at the Patrick Daly School in Brooklyn.

Sarah: And her sister came into the room and said "You're going to wear those old rags to school?"

Narrator: Her lesson is part of the curriculum developed by R.C.C.P., the Resolving Conflict Creatively Program and it's designed to help kids identify and control their emotions.

Linda: The work that we do in the Resolving Conflict Creatively Program is about equipping young people with the kids of skills they need to both identify and manage their emotions, to communicate those emotions effectively, and to resolve conflict nonviolently. So it's a whole set of skills and competencies that for us fall under the umbrella of emotional intelligence.

Sarah: And started complaining that Maria always takes the last bowl of cereal. "You never leave any for me."

Linda: We are talking about a whole new vision of education that says that educating the heart is as important as educating the mind.

Sarah: So that was Maria's day. How do you think Maria is feeling now if this is what's left of her heart?

Has anybody ever had a day like Maria had?

Student: When I went to my uncle's house, they looked at my clothes and they started laughing.

Sarah: Okay how did that make you feel?

Student: Sad.

Sarah: Now I want you to think what kind of effect do you think this has on Maria if day in and day out this is what happens to her? This is the way she's being treated. What kind of effect does that have on her?

Student: She ain't gonna have no self-respect.

Linda: We're really not teaching values. We're actually teaching skills. We're teaching some solid competencies that people can learn and use. They're almost like tools in a toolbox.

Class: One, two, three, action.

Sarah: And freeze. Nice job. Hector?

Hector: Sad?

Sarah: Alright.

Narrator: The R.C.C. program at this school grew out of a tragic incident in 1992. A young student had left the school after an emotional outburst and when Principal Patrick Daly followed him into a neighborhood housing project, Daly was caught in the crossfire of a drug deal gunfight.

Sarah: Once we're able to identify the feelings we're having, we're going to use it as a tool and a strategy to help us solve problems.

Class: One, two, three, action.

Student: Stacy, you're a lousy friend. You didn't even invite me to your birthday party. I have you over to my house all the time and you couldn't invite me to one stupid party?

Student: Dina, why don't you shut up? Who cares what you think? It was a wonderful party but you wouldn't have known because you'd never know how to act. If I invited you, you would have ruined the whole thing.

Teacher: And freeze. Okay, that's skit A. They're now going to show you skit B and this is using the strategy that I'm going to teach you in just a minute.

Narrator: One way the R.C.C. Program helps diffuse classroom conflicts is by teaching children how to express their emotion in nonthreatening statements called "I messages".

Class: Okay, one, two, three, action.

Student: Stacy, I felt hurt and angry when I found out you had a birthday party and you didn't invite me because I thought we were good friends and it just doesn't seem to me something a good friend would do.

Student: Dina, I wanted to invite you to my birthday party, but my mother said I could only invite two friends because all my cousins were coming. I wanted to talk to you before the party but I didn't know how to. I would like to keep on being friends.

Sarah: And freeze. Alright, yeah, nice job.

Sarah: Well what we were doing today is definitely, it's an artificial situation. It's not real life and granted, when my kids go and they're into a situation where someone has said "You talk about my mother and I'm not going to have it, forget about it." You know they're going to slip and they're going to go back "Well you said this," and they're going to get their attitudes and that's kids. But what you try to do is you try to bring them back. You try to review. You go over it again. You say "What's another way that we could solve this problem?"

When you don't play with me because-

Class: I thought we were good friends.

Sarah: I want to say just one last thing. The true test is what happens when you're in the situation and that's why we practice it so that hopefully the next time you're in a situation where you're finding yourself getting very upset, maybe you can stop, identify what feeing you're having, why you're having it, and maybe that will help to not cause more of a problem.

And you start with as we've done in here is building your community. And you build on that every month. And you keep going and going.

I'll begin. And I'm very thankful for my wonderful class. And I'm going to pass on to--

Student: I'm thankful for a family because without a family I wouldn't be here today.

Sarah: By the end of the year you have such a tight-knit focused caring group it's amazing. I mean they might not carry that on to the next year, but you know at least for that year, you've really made a difference in those kids' lives.

Narrator: For more information on what works in public education, go to edutopia.org.

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Credits

Video Credits

Produced, Written, and Directed by

  • Ken Ellis

Associate Producers:

  • Diane Curtis
  • Leigh Iacobucci

Editors:

  • Blair Gershkow
  • Sam Hinckley

Camera Crew:

  • Guy Jackson
  • Gabriel Miller

Narrator:

  • Susan Blake

Postproduction:

  • Sam Hinckley
The Resolving Conflict Creatively Program helps develop emotional intelligence in Brooklyn inner-city students.

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