At the recent ISTE 2011 Conference I had a chance to demo an Biology module by a group of very cleaver, dare I say deviant, education resource producers from a company called Cerebellum. It was fun learning, and fully packaged for teaching the things that used to take me binders full of resource gathering. Beyond that, the pre lesson, actual lessons, and post lesson activities and assessments were anything but traditional. I do know that any teacher could teach biology by using it, and students would love the irreverant style. I did make the comment that students would most likely want to create their own videos and characters after experiencing the lessons. Afterward, I interviewed spokeperson Sam Genovese (image above as "Hiro the Dog Eater") from Cerebellum, who also acts in some of the video resource scenes. You may learn enough about Standard Deviants Accelerate to give it a try.
Q: How is Standard Deviants Accelerate different from other online resources?
Ans: We had a few goals when creating Standard Deviants Accelerate:
1) Save teachers time.
2) Make it intuitive and easy to use, because no teacher should have to use a personal day to learn a new online program.
3) Make it a comprehensive subject-based learning resource that is flexible for teachers and students alike.
4) Create new and unique Standard Deviants video, audio, and testing materials that are only available on SD Accelerate.
Q: How will teachers benefit from using this platform?
Ans: Accelerate will save teachers time. Grading rubrics are provided for relevant assignments, however we know that each classroom has different needs, so we made the rubrics editable via simple click-and-type. Additionally, Accelerate pushes performance data to teachers for struggling students. This frees teachers from constantly having to log in to get time-sensitive data about students in need of more help, thus providing teachers have more time to teach.
Q: Can you explain the methodology in the structure of the subjects’ material?
Ans: Differentiated instruction, RTI and creative critical thinking are the backbone of Accelerate's methodology.
A quiz taken at the end of a module is informed by smaller quizzes taken at the beginning of the module. It really gets interesting with the critical thinking questions, though. Accelerate will push either a foundational or an enrichment critical thinking question to the student based on that student's unique performance on prior assignments. This type of instruction happens dozens of times over the course of an entire subject.
Accelerate's approach to RTI is to literally send red flags to teachers when students are underperforming, so as to allow the teacher to respond in a timely manner.
Students are asked time and again to approach the material from creative angles and think for themselves. This makes the subject matter relevant to their lives, makes it real and makes it totally engaging.
Q: Why should this be used in the classroom?
Ans: For teachers, Accelerate is about flexibility and saving time. Sure, there is a logical pathway to how Accelerate's lessons are organized and presented, but the entire system is designed to allow teachers to manage their classrooms in the ways they see fit. Teachers can have students submit assignments electronically or as printouts; additionally, Accelerate can be used directly in the classroom or assigned as homework or as a long-term assignment—the teacher is in control.
For students, Accelerate is a dynamic learning environment that provides not only Standard Deviants video programming, but also assignments with twists that really make the students engage with the material. I mean, where else are students going to be asked to explain mitosis in rhyming couplets?