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I am a student at the University of South Alabama, College of Education. My husband Brian and I have been married since 2004, and in 2010 welcomed our son Deigan. I also work full-time as the Marketing Specialist for a local Real Estate company.

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Sunday, October 27, 2013

Teaching and Learning, Randy Pausch Style...

quote by Randy Pausch
This memorial plaque with a quote from Dr. Randy Pausch was placed near the
Mad Tea Party attraction in the Magic Kingdom at the Walt Disney World Resort
in his honor.  It reads, "Be good at something; it makes you valuable. Have
something to bring to the table,  because that will make you more welcome."
Dr. Randy Pausch was a valued professor at Carnegie-Mellon who lost his battle with pancreatic cancer in 2008. Shortly after being diagnosed with cancer, Dr. Pausch delivered his last lecture, appropriately titled "Randy Pausch's Last Lecture" to a house of more than 500 guests and fellow colleagues. In his lecture, Dr. Pausch gave an emotional recollection of his life growing up and shared his lifelong list of dreams.  To his credit, there where check marks next to each dream, albeit a modification or two. Throughout his lecture, it is clear that Dr. Pausch was extremely passionate about his profession. His unique Project Based Learning style provided a great way for him to relay that passion on to his students. He felt that Project Based Learning allowed his students to "Have fun while learning something hard", or if you will, a sort of "Edutainment."

Throughout his last lecture, Dr. Pausch spoke about the various collaborative projects he was fortunate to take part in. One of his more proud moments was his involvement with Disney Imagineering. After several failed attempts, he finally received the break he was looking for and began working directly with the Imagineers at Disney. I myself being fairly familiar with all things Disney understand the significance and honor of being an Imagineer. I feel that Dr. Pausch was making two points with this story, 1- Never give up on your dreams and 2- The importance to work collaboratively together and harmoniously with a group of like-minded individuals who all have the same goal. This thought process is easily relayed in our own classrooms. Teachers should encourage their students to follow their dreams and be diligent in perusing them. Teachers should also try to think outside the box and come up with fun PBL assignments that allow their students to work within a group. Group projects help to build strength and trust in others and allow the students minds to flow freely. All while learning something.

Dr. Pausch also mentions his experience with a pilot program he started at Carnegie-Mellon. In this class, the students were responsible for 4 VR (virtual reality) assignments. He didn't teach from books, but rather again with Project Based Learning assignments. Dr. Pausch goes on to mention how excited he was that on the first assignment, the entire class blew him away with their projects and how creative and advanced they all were. Delighted, yes! Perplexed, absolutely! He called on a colleague who basically told him that he needed to set the standard higher, that he started out too low. He was also encouraged to demand better from his students on the next project. This too is a lesson we can apply in our classrooms. We should constantly encourage our students to do their best and keep climbing the tree of knowledge and continue to learn. Also, at the end of each assignment, the students were asked to complete a survey that was relevant to their group members. This feedback is essential for students to reflect on their performances and make adjustments where they are needed.

One final point that Dr. Pausch made was the importance of parents, mentors and students working together. As the old saying goes, "It takes a village to raise a child" well, it also takes a team of focused adults to help our children succeed. I feel that in the classroom, it is important to keep parents involved and informed. This allows some of the education responsibility to be given to them and in turn they are aware of what needs to happen, and will not allow their child to slack.

Dr. Randy Pausch's exhibited great resilience and determination throughout his life. His passion for education and teaching his students to follow their dreams and to never give up is what I consider to be the foundation of a successful student and positive attribute to future society. Dr. Pausch was focused, determined, methodical, thoughtful and above all successful. He truly was an inspiration.

BP Ten

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