29 March 2013

Context Rich Learning Environments

The goal-based, anchored instruction and Star Legacy models all seem to be variations on the problem-based learning environments. They seek to place the students in a real world situation in which they use their extant knowledge and developing problem-solving skills to work their way through realistically situated challenges or problems in order to gain concrete experience within a field so as to create lasting memories and understanding within a particular subject.

The MOST model was the most different from the rest. It had a cross-curriculum literacy aspect that I really appreciated. It focused on building literacy (reading, comprehension, listening, writing, computing, etc) skills, rather than problem-solving skills. I like that this method does not assume that students have already mastered enough literacy to be able to jump into problem-solving situations well equipped.

My problem with many of these "real world problem solving" models is that they are pretty easy to adapt to science and math curricula, but often seem harder to adapt for language arts and social studies.

The advantage of the Star Legacy model is that it gives a fairly explicit method and timeline for the process, which is circular and repetitive, allowing students to work through the secondary problems that naturally develop as you solve an initial problem in real world scenarios. This seems like one of the most realistic methods, but possibly one that is harder to adapt particular kinds of material to.

The MOST method was very interesting to me, as I am teaching students that have literacy problems and in the 9th grade struggle with social studies vocabulary and basic writing skills. It has been estimated that the students I teach in classes probably left primary school with a two year knowledge/skill deficit, which has continued to grow as they aged. Using the information coming from the studies on MOST, I can find ways of enhancing or supplementing the reading materials with multimedia that help students to gain a better understanding and comprehension of texts by supplementing the contexts in which information is presented. I would definitely consider using aspects of this method in my classroom.

If the project goes well, I plan on using the goal-based scenario project we create in this class in my classroom, so hopefully I will be trying it in my classroom within a few weeks. I think using it as a way of incorporating writing instruction and social studies content could be effective in some of my classrooms.

Students could use google drive to collaborate, brainstorm and edit materials and ideas for the problem-solving aspects. I think voicethread could be a great piece of multimedia for the MOST method, because teachers can create their own multimedia to support text visually and auditorily. I would also probably consider using Audacity to create audio versions of texts to help support readers struggling with literacy.