I really enjoyed watching the YouTube video of Randy Pausch's "last lecture" entitled "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams". His own dreams, his life story, and his humor really combined to make it a fun video to watch and listen to. Our assignment dealt with his teaching methods and how he used them. I had a hard time pulling these out of the video, but I did find several things that he talked about that are definitely worth noting. They are things I will definitely carry into my future classroom.
One of the things he emphasized was having fun and breaking the mold of the 'book learning' that so many programs are built around. He used this in his classroom by making all of his classes entirely project based. While in the elementary classroom, this may not be pulled off as easily, the theme definitely can be. We as 21st century teachers (and teachers to be!) have access to so many things that can make learning so much more fun for our students, but still help them learn. I think the students would enjoy that, and the teachers might enjoy not having so many loose papers floating around to grade! I know I would!
With the project emphasis also came working in teams. This is one of the most valuable skills that elementary school students and really people of any age can learn. At the elementary level, however, it is an especially important skill. I also liked his idea of rating how well the other people in your group did. I wouldn't use this in an elementary classroom, though. With middle and high school age students, that is definitely a good way to go! Mix the groups up and let the students experience working with other students. This can even be done at the elementary level. Giving them a variety of experiences lets them learn about other people and gain valuable social skills.
The last and most important thing that I really got out of this is to always push your students to do better. Pausch mentioned that the first time his students did a project they all did really well and he was stumped how to keep going with it. After some counsel, he walked into his classroom and told his students that what they had done was really good, but he knew they could do better. I think it is SO vitally important as teachers that we continually push our students to excel. When they do well, praise them and then help them figure out how they could improve the next time. Help them to learn to "reach for the stars" and do the best they can do.