EDU 6644: Reflection

Module 3’s primary focus was on how general education teachers can support students with learning disabilities and special needs. I selected this module for my reflection because it is an overview of what I need to know as general educational teacher. A portion of my discussion post is presented in Figure 1 below.

Figure 1
There are several factors that influence how a teacher can proactively support students with special needs. First, teachers should have a solid understanding of the range of disabilities, disorders, and unique special needs that will require extra attention in meeting a student’s behavioral, social, physical and/or academic need. Every year general education teachers will assist students with special needs. Lewis & Doorlag (2011) state that about 75% of students who have a mild learning need can receive accommodation in a general education classroom. The more knowledge teachers have about different types of special education needs, the more likely teachers will be comfortable relying on their skills while working with all students.

An essential fact for general education teachers to learn about exceptional learners is that about 75% of students with a mild learning need can be accommodated in the general education environment. I think that when teachers learn this information, it diminishes the misconception that all students with a special need require intense intervention. In practice, I can show other general education teachers we have the ability to provide accommodations. I want others to feel empowered that we have the knowledge, skills, and resources to help students with a mild learning need. There are many benefits when teachers provide support for student with special needs by modifying lessons or differentiating instruction. The student’s day is not disrupted by having to leave the classroom for special instruction. Another benefit is that special education teachers can devote their time with students who do need individual assistance.

In Figure 1, I also discuss how a teacher becomes more comfortable relying on his or her skills after attaining more knowledge about working with exceptional learners. I mention something similar nearly every week because one of my concerns has been how will I be confident in applying my knowledge and skills while working with students with special needs? I value the academic focus on learning about the range of students’ needs, but I know the application of that knowledge can be challenging. After my observational hours, I realize confidence will happen overtime. This is a situation where I need to worry less and instead look for opportunities where I gain experience and apply my knowledge. As I experience working with a range of students I will learn what accommodations produce the best results.

This course has helped me learn about identifying and working with students with special needs. I anticipate many challenges and learning opportunities in the future. With education, reflection and teaching experiences, my ability to support exceptional learners will continue to grow.

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EDU 6989 Observation Reflection

In May 2016, I spent 42 hours observing teachers and students at Endeavour Elementary School in Issaquah, Washington. I primarily observed a first grade classroom. The first grade teacher also arranged opportunities for me to observe in second, third, fourth, and fifth grade classrooms. I was very appreciative for the additional observation experiences because I saw how instruction, curriculum, and collaborative learning changed in conjunction with different grades. Anyone who spends time at Endeavour will quickly observe that key values in the school are respect, teamwork, citizenship, and personal growth. These values apply to the students as well as the administrative staff, teachers, and volunteers. Everyone is responsible for helping ensure the school is a safe, welcoming, engaging environment so students are focused on learning and achieving their academic and personal goals. Values are promoted on posters in the hallways, on signs in the classrooms, through classroom expectations, and in how everyone communicates with each other.

Two areas I focused on during my observations were classroom management and assisting students with special needs. Since the observation occurred near the end of the school year, classroom management and organization were already a polished process. Students knew what their teacher expected from them and what management cues their teacher used. One universal cue was a hand gesture students used to indicate they wanted to go to the restroom. In the first grade classroom, the primary focus teaching students to line up quietly to prepare to walk in a silent line to recess, lunch, P.E., art, or music. In second, third, and fourth grade, every student was assigned a classroom duty. These jobs helped the classroom remain a safe, productive learning environment for students while reminding them they are responsible for helping take care of the school. Each teacher had their own system about how to assign tasks to students on a rotating based. It appeared every student took pride in their assigned task and they did not want to leave the room for the day until their job was completed. Designating classroom duties assisted in the organization of the room since jobs included responsibilities such as turning on and off computers every day, handing out papers, collecting assignments, and cleaning the desks.

Most students demonstrated very respectful behavior and self-control. Teachers practiced different age appropriate solutions for student misbehavior. In the first grade class, students were seated on the floor for a lesson when two boys started badgering another boy, B. B asked his classmates to stop bothering him. A fourth boy even tried to tell the instigators they were not following class rules. Once it was obvious this issue was not going to be solved among the students, the teacher stopped mid-lesson to remind everyone of the class rules. The consequence for the two boys who were not following classroom rules was to verbally apologize and to write an “I’m sorry” note to B. The teacher also praised the boy who tried to help, explaining that it is important to help your friends. In the third grade classroom, the teacher privately talked to a few students in the hallway since bullying-type behavior had recently developed and seemed to be escalating. Each student was talked to individually for a few minutes. The teacher taking the time to have one-on-one conversations indicated her respect for students as individuals and provided students the opportunity to engage in a conversation with their teacher. Both teachers demonstrated how a response to misbehavior changes depending on the action and age.

Supporting exceptional learners is a priority for teachers, school administers, and specialists. It is a collaborative effort among the staff to ensure students with behavioral, intellectual, physical, attentive, and/or social issues receive an education that aligns with their needs. Depending on the individual’s need, students might work with a specialist for one-on-one help or spend a portion of their school day in the resource room while also receiving specific academic and verbal instruction from their general education teacher.

I focused on observing how general education teachers differentiated instruction and learning activities for students with special needs. In one class students were working on learning their multiplication facts. First, this activity recognized that all students learn at different rates. Students had to correctly answer a set of multiplication facts before progressing to the next set. The teacher added an extra support to this activity for L, a student with a learning disability. L learned the same material as her classmates, but focused on learning half as many multiplication facts in one set at a time. This differentiated instruction recognized L is capable of learning the multiplication facts. Chunking the information into smaller sets made the activity more attainable for L. I also observed the techniques a second grade teacher used when she assisted two students with special behavior needs. A strategy she used with both students was to create a self-monitoring behavior chart that the students used every day. She tracked their behavior too, but believed that the charts helped them stay focused on positive classroom behavior and interactions. It was enlightening for me to observe how the teachers managed the learning and behavioral needs of students with distinctive needs.

Endeavour offers programs to support highly capable students. For students in Kindergarten through second grade, there is a qualification process to participate in the Primary Enrichment Program (PEP). Students in third, fourth, and fifth grade have two options available. Mind Education Right Left Integration (MERLIN) is a program all students in the district can participate in after a nomination and evaluation process. Endeavour is one of the two elementary schools in Issaquah that hosts the MERLIN classrooms. MERLIN classes have high expectations and challenge students through higher level thinking instruction and independent work (Highly Capable Program, 2016). Highly capable third, fourth, and fifth graders may also qualify for Special Approach to Gifted Education (SAGE), which is a program that enhances the learning experience for students placed in the general education classroom (Highly Capable Program, 2016). PEP, MERLIN, and SAGE reflect Issaquah School District’s commitment to providing highly capable students options that appropriately align with their learning needs.

Student’s academic learning and personal growth are very important at Endeavour. Achievement is guided through direct instruction, applied learning experiences, and student’s exploration into individual interests. Student inquiry and questioning is encouraged as a primary method of learning and understanding. Nearly all direct instruction lessons included a review about students’ background knowledge, especially during math and science. Students were often instructed to incorporate critical thinking skills throughout all subjects. This technique was always used after silent reading ended. All the teachers asked for student volunteers to talk about what they had read, if they had any predictions about what was going to happen next, and if they had any lingering questions.

Teachers also emphasized that students should read stories that matched their reading level. The third grade teacher reminded her students of the 5-Finger Rule during reading time. This strategy helps a student determine how challenging the book is based on how many words they understand on a random page. Students begin reading a page in the middle of a new book and for every word they do not know on that page, they put up a finger. A book is “just right” if they have two or three fingers up by the end of the page (Mascott, 2013). I talked with a fourth grade student about he was reading. It was quickly apparent the story was just above his reading comprehension level. I mentioned this interaction with the teacher. She said that he likes to challenge himself, but she would talk with him and recommend he change books.

Student’s safety within the school and at home is critical. If school personnel have any concerns about a child’s well-being, it is recommended to immediately review the district’s regulation manual to ensure the proper action is followed. Pursuant to the regulations, if an employee believes there is a reasonable cause to suspect child neglect or abuse, the situation must be reported to the appropriate law enforcement agency as soon as possible and no later than 48 hours after reasonable cause was suspected (Regulations, 2012). The policy also states the report should made in the presence of the school principal when possible (Regulations, 2012). The recommendation to review the policy every time a situation arises is an essential process because students’ safety is an issue that should be handled correctly and efficiently.

Observation was an extremely valuable experience. I witnessed how professionals supported students with diverse needs and personalities, as well as how they collaborated with their colleagues. I was inspired watching how excellent teachers incorporated various instructional methods into the curriculum while maintaining the students inquiry and learning as the priority. I am beyond grateful that the teachers and students at Endeavour welcomed me into their community and look forward to returning to observe preparation for beginning of next school year.

References

Issaquah School District. (2016). Highly capable (gifted) programs overview. Retrieved from: http://www.issaquah.wednet.edu/academics/programs/gifted

Mascot, A. (2013). Help kids to p.i.c.k. the right books. Retrieved from: http://www.scholastic.com/parents/blogs/scholastic-parents-raise-reader/help-kids-to-pick-right-books

Issaquah School District. (2012. Regulations: Child abuse, neglect, and exploitation prevention-3421. Retrieved from: http://www.issaquah.wednet.edu/docs/default-source/district/regulations-manual/3000/3421p-child-abuse-neglect-and-exploitation.pdf?sfvrsn=0

Netiquette Infographic

My goal for this project was to create an infographic that I could give to students or post in my classroom concerning Netiquette Guidelines. ISTE Standard 4 recommends teachers promote online digital citizenship and student creativity while focusing on relevant technology issues like security, plagiarism, research, global communication, and copyright laws. These are all important topics and one of the reasons netiquette captured my attention is because the guidelines summarize many of the other digital citizenship objectives.

After I decided on netiquette as my topic, I searched for websites about specific tips and rules to teach students. I was surprised how many of the articles I found were written nearly 10 years ago. This confirmed that netiquette was a good topic. Updated materials and information is appealing to any learner, but it is especially helpful when trying to capture younger students attention. Next, I googled examples of infographics so I knew what one looked like. I also watched the EDTC6433 YouTube video that teaches how to make an infographic and examples of projects to assign students. I learned there should be a relationship between pictures and text and that the images should be noticed before the details.

I used the website http://www.piktochart.com to create, modify, and download my poster. The free demo offers limited templates, but I think that is actually a benefit for new learners. After selecting a template, I discovered I had more creative control than I initially realized so I changed some of the fonts and color schemes. The majority of my time was spent writing and editing content. I would have liked more image choices since the visual aspect is so important, but I was able to work with what was provided. Overall, I think the site is a valuable free resource. If I want to create more charts and posters in the future I think it is worth the annual cost, especially to have access to higher quality final versions.

Creating an infographic is a really fun assignment to demonstrate knowledge in an artistic method. If students cannot access a computer, then I would teach them how to make an infographic either through drawings or assembling together pictures from magazines and newspapers. I look forward to seeing what my students create in the future when I assign infographics as part of group projects or individual assignments.

netiquette-tips (3).jpeg

 

My Digital Storytelling Video

I created my digital storytelling project on why I decided to become a teacher because then my video serves multiple purposes. First, I can use it as an example to show my students what a digital storytelling project is. Second, they know I have finished one before too. And lastly, the video has another message to them about why I enjoy being their teacher. This video is primarily focused on my students as the audience in a formal educational setting, but I would likely share it with parents and other educators too.

The recommendation of ISTE Standard 1 for teachers is to create an inspirational student learning community through technology. The entire digital storytelling creation process is fun for students while engaging them to apply technology skills and research content for their topic. Also, because the videos take time and planning to finish, students’ learning is enhanced as they continually combine prior knowledge with new information.

Creation Process

The creation process can be as simple or as a complex as someone wants it to be. I decided fairly quickly on a topic and began gathering my photos to include in the video. I typed out a script so I could think about what other photos I needed. While writing the script I tried to use simpler vocabulary words and thought of how I would emphasize certain terms during the audio recording step. I searched for the additional pictures using the website Creative Commons. I specifically downloaded map pictures for the different geographic locations so students had a visual representation of where I was during different parts of my story. I searched for graphic art style pictures too because I thought the variety added more character to the video.

As I collected pictures online, I saved them in an iPhoto folder. Next, I imported the pictures to iMovie. Since I had not created any videos before, I watched a few videos on YouTube about how to use iMovie. I preferred an educational series from user KQED Education because the videos were in a sequential order and concise. After watching a few videos I worked on making transitional changes between pictures and extending their length for more than four seconds. The tutorial videos advised that the pictures are timed a bit longer than your audio so it would be easier to adjust after recording narrative.

I practiced my script a few times using my iPhone stopwatch to record how long it took to read through. The stopwatch ended just before four minutes and thirty seconds so I knew I had the right amount of content. I recorded the audio in iMovie was satisfied after my fourth recording. I adjusted the pictures to ensure photos changed at appropriate times. Next, I looked for music to add to the background. The music is from YouTube’s free library, although I searched a bit on SoundCloud as well. I found two free songs on YouTube and added them to the video. I watched and listened to the video at least five times while making slight changes before deciding I liked the final product.

Learning Process

The biggest challenge of this project was thinking about the fact that nearly all of the technical steps were completely new to me. I was really overwhelmed before starting to make my video, but soon realized I had enough research skills and basic technology knowledge. Finding music was probably the most difficult step because I was really nervous about how I would know if it was free or not. I also wanted to find music that had good tempo, was a bit calming, and not a distraction from my story and the pictures.

The most significant thing I learned from this project is that as a teacher, I must practice whatever I assign my students and have many resources available for them when they need help. This is definitely a project I would assign to my class, although I would specify a shorter video time for younger students. I would also build the class up to a project like this by having them practice skills in recording audio, finding music, searching for pictures, and slowly combining information along the way. I am excited to see what types of videos my students create in the future.

Fostering Self-esteem in Students

Teaching involves many characteristics, but perhaps a few of the most important include patience, determination, and positivity. These traits impact a teacher’s approach to instruction and his or her expectations of student learning. Every student has a unique set of abilities and it is part of a teacher’s job to foster students’ personal and academic development. Growth is an ongoing process and teachers can either enhance or hinder a student’s development depending on their interactions with students and how the learning environment has been designed. Joyce, Weil, and Calhoun (2015) emphasize that a classroom’s learning community directly influences what students think about themselves and their abilities, how they interact with others, and how they approach learning. When teachers promote a positive learning community they directly impact their students developing self-esteem and academic growth.

Educators can reference Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs while planning classroom activities. The Hierarchy of Needs theory details how individuals move among various tiers to meet basic, psychological, and self-fulfillment needs throughout life (Desautels, 2014). The five tiers include 1) physiological needs such as breathing, food, and water; 2) safety related to the self, family, and property; 3) feeling love and belonging among family and friends; 4) obtaining self-esteem, respect, and confidence; and 5) self-actualization which results in creativity, problem-solving abilities, and self-reflection. Dr. Destautels offers detailed advice on how teachers can meet these needs for students when planning lessons, projects, and classroom design.

As a teacher, I believe that thinking about my students’ needs and interacting with them in positive ways will help increase their self-esteem. I know how easily certain words or actions can negatively impact someone’s persona or belief in their capabilities. I consider myself a positive, compassionate, patient person and I seek opportunities for improvement, especially when working with children. I babysat throughout my teenage years and always thought about how my actions and behavior would be an example for the children. As a teacher, my approach will be no different. I believe that I can cultivate students’ self-esteem through positivity, encouraging my students to be excited about learning, and teaching them to aspire to do their best.

References

Desautels, L. (2014). Addressing our needs: Maslow comes to life for educators and students. Retrieved from: http://www.edutopia.org/blog/addressing-our-needs-maslow-hierarchy-lori-desautels

Joyce, B., Weil, M., & Calhoun, E. (2015). Models of Teaching (9th ed.). Upper Sadle River, New Jersey: Pearson.

Multiple Intelligences Theory

In 1983 psychologist Howard Gardner introduced his theory of Multiple Intelligences. After spending years researching cognitive processing, Gardner concluded people have “different kinds of minds and therefore, learn, remember, perform, and understand in different ways” (Edwards). Gardner initially specified seven types of intelligences: visual-spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, linguistic, and logical-mathematical. He has added naturalistic to the list and believes there might be a few other intelligences that could be included.

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Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence (Retrieved from http://www.connectionsacademy.com

If an educator believes in this theory, how can she or he plan enough activities so students receive a variety of lessons that support the basis of multiple intelligences? There is obviously not enough time in the school day or enough resources available for teachers to specifically target each one of these intelligences during every lesson. Instead, teachers should coordinate lesson plans to allow opportunities for students to use basic concepts of the different types of intelligences. Teachers can organize activities so students practice combinations of intelligences during one activity. For example, small group discussions activities focus on interpersonal intelligence, which supports learning through interaction, and an activity where students talk a lot, therefore supporting linguistic intelligence. Another idea is to combine visual-spatial and bodily-kinesthetic intelligences. Each student can represent a certain step in a procedure and move around the classroom to show what happens when the steps combine or are out of order. Music and intrapersonal can be combined. Part of a lesson could assign students to reflect on progress and achievement, an intrapersonal intelligence. The reflection directions might be instructing students to write their thoughts out as a song to support musical intelligence.

Gardner also advises teachers to individualize and pluralize lessons (Strauss, 2013). Each subject is an opportunity for teachers to incorporate an intelligence type into the lesson plan. I think Gardner’s multiple intelligences can be easily integrated into lessons with some planning. Teachers should be also cautious to balance out activities so all intelligence types are explored in the classroom. Students should have ample opportunities to practice applying Gardner’s intelligences because each one is an important part of a student’s learning and education.

Edwards, O. (Date unknown). An interview with Howard Gardner, father of multiple intelligences. Retrieved from https://bbweb03.spu.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-1133734-dt-content-rid-2472073_1/courses/EDU6526_26357_201562/SIS%20Session%207%20Reading%20%28Gardner%29.pdf

Strauss, V. (2013). Howard Gardner: ‘multiple intelligences’ are not ‘learning styles.’ The Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2013/10/16/howard-gardner-multiple-intelligences-are-not-learning-styles/

 

 

Socially Constructed Knowledge

There are different types of knowledge students learn throughout their K-12 education. A few of specific types of knowledge student acquire are subject-related knowledge, academic skills, social skills, and collaboration abilities. Prior to grade school, children often experience life primarily at their home, at a preschool, or in a childcare center. These places tend to be very small populations and children interact with familiar people. Elementary school changes this learning and knowledge dynamic. Students are exposed to new learning content, social procedures, and a diverse set of perspectives and approaches to life. Children start learning new and different knowledge as they work with others. The cooperative learning approach supports students as they learn how to respectfully interact with each other while building vital social skills for adult life.

The cooperative learning strategy recognizes that students have diverse interests and the class acquires knowledge together based on those interests. The process of cooperative learning includes creating an environment where students can explore new knowledge by discussing the information with peers, and developing an understanding with classmates about the information (Dean, Hubbell, Pitler, & Stone, 2012, p. 37).

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Image 1 (Retrieved from collaborativegrouplearning.com)

Image 1 on the right summarizes the cooperative learning process as students interact in a community and share ideas. The teacher’s responsibility during this process is to facilitate the groups, intervene when necessary, and act as a consultant (Joyce, Weil, & Calhoun, 2015, p. 252). When students participate in a cooperating learning environment, knowledge is constructed based on the group interests rather than knowledge the teacher believes students should learn.

I have participated in numerous group-learning projects throughout my education and in the work setting. Naturally, group work is challenging at times, but the value of working with different people and learning about their perspectives or approaches outweighs the difficulties. As a teacher, one of the best benefits of utilizing a cooperative learning strategy is so students have the opportunity to talk and exchange ideas. Humans are social creatures. I do not expect my students to sit silently for the majority of the school day. Instead, I want students to learn how to exchange ideas and reflect on their knowledge through discussions and collaboration. Another advantage of group learning is that students realize working together is easier when they properly utilize each other’s strength and knowledge. Every individual has a unique ability or thought that should be shared with group. When everyone participates, the result is a better solution to a problem or a stronger final product. A cooperative learning approach advocates the notion that students learn more when working together because they are simultaneously teaching each other. This type of education and knowledge cannot by preplanned by a teacher, so teachers should encourage students to learn from each other through group activities and discussions.

References

Dean, C., Hubbell, E., Pitler, H., & Stone, Bj. (2012). Classroom Instruction that Works (2nd ed.). Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Joyce, B., Weil, M., & Calhoun, E. (2015). Models of Teaching (9th ed.). Upper Sadle River, New Jersey: Pearson.