Now there are friends of mine who are Curry School students, and I've seen one tutor kids on Reformation history in Clemons library -- but they're going into secondary education. This elementary classroom situation is a little different. The entire thing is a simulation of a 3rd grade (math?!) classroom, with the instructor simulating the teacher and the ed students simulating...3rd grade students. The teacher to his credit, is engaging, and his rhetorical strategies seem useful.... just the activities they're doing don't seem all that intensive.
I really can't see how participating in a national healthy foods recipe competition is all that useful. (And I love food science.) I suppose it must be about the ingredients-measuring. And calendar-time planning.
Now there's another instructor (less charismatic) coming in to discuss how to teach young kids fractions; a new piece of software -- "designed for preschoolers but has been used in elementary schools sometimes up to 4th grade". I must say I like some aspects of what I see -- they give me a, "oh hey! that might be useful!" reaction. I'd keep the sound effects and the trusting kid narrative voice, but use really powerful, engaging diagrams.
I just see many ways in which their approach could be scaled so much up and made so much more intense. One thing I do see is an underestimation and a consistent underexpectation of the imaginations of children. A reminder of the kind of elementary school classroom I grew up in. (And my first grade teacher was a graduate of Harvard.) Certainly if they do mean to inspire children to discover concepts for themselves there isn't a lot of inspiration going on.
I currently do not see a lot of inspiration in the ed school students going on either, in a "imagine the possibilities!" sort of way.
Now the lecturer is showing how the software can be used, and how it can be used in Spanish -- but not showing them for example, how it might be customised or programmed to suit a lesson -- even when the lecturer was the leader of the team responsible for its development! (Though apparently other students did write the program.)
I don't know. I imagine that an elementary school teacher could be taught how to use Mathematica and write simple scripts (fun slider bars!) to create kid-friendly yet very engaging, powerful plots.