Student Teaching Reflection 3

 

Content Knowledge: The teacher uses content area knowledge, learning standards, appropriate pedagogy and resources to design and deliver curricula and instruction to impact student learning. This standard focuses on the most critical elements of the lesson design process. It establishes that teachers create purposeful learning units that align with core instructional standards, along with the needs and interests of students.

Students in my class recently started a science unit that involves exploring different types of wood, how they are produced, and how they are used in real world buildings and structures. Students delved into the scientist’s role by experimenting to figure out which type of wood was the most absorbent.

In Picture 1 below (on the left) a student is testing five different types of wood by placing two drops on each piece and waiting to see how long it takes for the water to soak in. After students observed the results of this experiment, they discussed what type of wood they would want to build a house with and what type of wood their desks are made out of. In Picture 2 below (on the right), two students look closer at a desk before deciding that the classroom desks are built from plywood.

During the next lesson, students made predictions about whether it would take more or less paperclips to sink the plywood than the pinewood. In Picture 3 below (on the left), a student colors in the “more” choice. In Picture 4 (middle), students work with the pieces of wood and paperclips to prepare them for the float or sink test. In Picture 5 (on the right) a student anxiously awaits to see if the wood will sink.

 

These lessons were very exciting for the students as they investigated using hands-on experiments, made connections to what they know, and learned new scientific terms such as absorbent, repel, and prediction. These activities are part of a kit that was designed over a decade ago, but I learned that the tasks are adaptable to modern standards. The school district is currently in the process of adopting Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The new standards emphasize the importance of students practicing in-depth experiments to delve deeper into core scientific concepts through hands-on experiments and investigations (Joyce, Weil, Calhoun, 2015, p. 72). Despite being created under a different set of standards, this wood unit and activities align with NGSS’s K-2-ETS1 Engineering Design standards. So far students have practiced making observations, gathering information, and analyzed the results. At the end of this lesson sequence, students will build their own structures out of wood, an activity that aligns with the developing and using models objective. It will be really exciting to see what the students create and learn why they wanted to build certain structures!

As this lesson sequence continues, my goal is to develop a stronger understanding of the new science standards. I am particularly interested in increasing my knowledge about how the standards relate to the Common Core State Standards and the Standards for Mathematical Practice. I think it is so beneficial to plan lessons that incorporate students’ skills and knowledge across all subject areas.

Reference

Joyce, B., Weil, M., & Calhoun, E. (2015). Models of teaching. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

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.

EDU 6150 Course Reflection – Content Knowledge

4. Content Knowledge:  The teacher uses content area knowledge, learning standards, appropriate pedagogy and resources to design and deliver curricula and instruction to impact student learning. I believe the content knowledge standard strives to promote student achievement by encouraging teachers to attentively plan lessons with structure and purpose.

Effective lesson planning includes considering what knowledge should be learned, how lessons will be taught, and methods to evaluate learning. The backward design approach is a systematic method to ensure all elements of lesson planning is achieved. EDU6150Figure1

Figure 1.1 illustrates the three stages of the backward design process. This approach enhances student performance since it focuses on planning for the desired results while also identifying students and teachers performances and experiences throughout a  lesson (Wiggins & McTighe, 2005, p. 9). In stage one, the main ideas and knowledge that students should acquire are identified. A lesson target is written to align with academic standards and to maintain the lesson’s structure during decisions related to assessments, activities, and instruction. In stage two, the assessment methods are chosen. Multiple formative assessment opportunities are selected to evaluate the progression of understanding and the effectiveness of instruction. Summative assessments evaluate if a student has successfully learned the lesson’s target. During stage three, teachers decide on specific learning activities and the primary teaching method. The activities and instruction should support the assessment methods, learning target, and students’ experiences during the lesson.

The backward design process is a guide for teachers. It helps prevent too much focus on implementing a particular activity, assessment, or teaching technique since the goal is to organize lessons based on the learning target. The process is a thorough analysis of the lesson and instruction. Backward design process avoids students’ confusion about why something is taught. The learning target is provided so students know a lesson’s purpose and can reflect on their learning process. The activities help ensure students have opportunities to practice what they are learning before the summative assessment.

I think a teacher’s ability to successfully apply the elements of content knowledge is a gradually learned skill. Planning lessons is important and using guideline is valuable, but experience is crucial. All teachers use students’ past performances and achievement to modify a lesson after instruction. Experienced teachers are often more effective at making modifications during the lesson. I believe this is a standard in which I will constantly improve by reading additional research and gaining experience as a teacher.

Reference:

Wiggins, G. & McTighe, J. (2005). Understanding by design. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Educational Standards

One of the most controversial education debates centers around the issue of standards and curriculum decisions. Should standards be regulated at a local state level or by United States government at a federal level? There are advantages and disadvantages to regulation at both levels, although it seems everyone agrees a decision should be made so the United States can experience proper progress in education reform. The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) passed in the early 2000s brought the topic to an even greater debate. One of the biggest issues of NCLB is that educational standards each state must meet were decided on at a federal level, but the act authorized states to decide if schools met the required proficiency level.

Support for federal regulation includes the rationale that national standards create a comparable and equitable educational experience for all students, support for the growing need to compete globally, and allow for better collaboration among educators across the country (Evans, 2008, pp. 7-9). These are very valid reasons, especially if states have not demonstrated they are not capable of solving these issues. However, a better approach might be to advise local officials about steps they can take to enact similar policies to work toward common educational goals. Main arguments against national standards is that centralizing educational decisions and authority results in a loss of policy makers understanding needs within the local community and the loss of valuable teachers and administrators (Evans, 2008, pp. 14-16). In a country as large and populated as the United States, how can the federal government properly and efficiently decide on the educational needs for all? While there should be similarities among states, it is not beneficial to students or educators for all decisions to be implemented at a national level.

National versus local regulation is a very complex subject that should involve a longer discussion. I am still undecided on my preference as I reflect on my experiences as a student and my desires as a teacher. In 6th grade I moved from California to Washington. I remember one day in a science class when I realized I had previously learned what my teacher was teaching that day. At first I thought it was great that I did not have to learn something new, but then I wondered what I was going to miss. Did my new class already cover a different topic I should know? This memory leads me to believe national standards will help prevent this from happening. As a teacher, I think about how easy it would be if there were national standards and regulations. It would be easier for me if could easily move around the country and not think about a new state teaching certification or creating a completely new set of lesson plans. But it is more important to me to feel like my professional opinion will make a difference. I also believe that my students’ parents should have easy access to how standards are decided and regulated. I doubt our voices will be heard on a national level. Overall, the foundations of a democratic society area more important to me than the advantages of the federal government making all the decisions.

Evans, D. (2008). Taking sides: Clashing views in teaching and education practice. New York, NY: McGraw Hill Higher Education.

ISTE Standard 5 – Engage in Professional Growth and Leadership

ISTE Standard 5 stresses the importance for teachers to stay updated on technology research and trends. In addition, teachers should participate in a digital society by sharing their knowledge and research through digital communication methods. Standard 5 also emphasizes that teachers find creative methods to use technology during classroom instruction and create engaging activities so students can practice and apply new digital skills. This standard prompted me to ask myself: as a new elementary school teacher, what local and online communities can I join or monitor to ensure I am devoting time to continually learning about updated technology and integrating new digital ideas into my curriculum?

Teaching is a complex, time-consuming profession that requires many character traits including commitment, organization, effort, and motivation. One of the goals of teaching is for students to master challenging content and learn new skills. Effectively incorporating technology is difficult for many teachers because technology is constantly changing and sometimes complicated. The U.S. Department of Education (2010) asserts that educators can become more effective teachers when they practice a connected teaching model. The connected teaching model is a technology-centered approach that encourages teachers to continuously use the necessary computer equipment, resources, and technical assistance to connect with students, teachers from around the world, and to access current course-related content (U.S. Department of Education, 2010, p. 40). The connected teaching model reflects how important technology skills are in a rapidly changing global society. This type of instructional approach and planning is quite different than what I experienced as student. As a teacher, I need to monitor resources and websites that will help me practice being a connected teacher and continually learning about technology.

StudentGuide lists essential resources for teachers who want to incorporate technology in the classroom. This list is very helpful for me because it divides potential resources into seven categories. Under each category are links to corresponding websites, resources, articles, or organizations. The seven categories include: 1) general educational technology tools; 2) technology initiatives and grant funding; 3) integrating technology; 4) web tools; 5) planning lessons using digital tools; 6) using technology to enhance learning among special education students; and 7) ongoing professional development. I like StudentGuide’s website because resources are organized by specific topics and I think I can find additional information through the recommended links. A classmate of mine shared a different source from TeacherVision that includes information about similar categories, along with links to specific lessons and resources about how to begin using technology in the classroom. I like TeacherVision’s list because it has more subject specific links and activities. When I review any resource, I know the purpose is for me to acquire additional knowledge so I can create innovated learning activities for students instead of relying on traditional teaching instruction approaches and assignments.

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ISTE Standard 5 for teachers is one of my favorite standards I have learned about over the last few months. I do not want my lesson plans and curriculum to become outdated or repetitive. That is not interesting for my students or myself. I can prevent that from happening if I continually explore what new technology is available. I also need to maintain communication with other teaching professionals and my students. Through routine communication I can ask questions and assess what technology is effective during lessons or how activities could be changed. My students will experience my commitment to technology as they become involved in the process of continually researching, connecting, and reflecting.

References

StudentGuide. 2013. Essential resources for integrating technology in the classroom. Retrieved from: http://www.studentguide.org/essential-resources-for-integrating-technology-in-the-classroom/

TeacherVision. 2016. Technology in the classroom: Resources for teachers. Retrieved from: https://www.teachervision.com/educational-technology/teacher-resources/43743.html

US Department of Education, Office of Educational Technology. (2010). Transforming American education learning powered by technology. Washington D.C. (38-50). Retrieved from: http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED512681.pdf

 

 

Instructional Strategies Meta-Reflection

Throughout this course the readings, lectures, and reflections have reviewed teaching techniques educators practice in the classroom. These strategies are grouped together in broader models, so teachers have the opportunity to learn and assess how to apply the instructional approaches. Joyce, Weil, and Calhoun (2015) categorize the four main models as: 1) the information-processing family; 2) the social family; 3) the personal family; and 4) the behavioral systems family.

Information-processing models are important because people strive to make sense of information by organizing their knowledge, applying critical thinking skills, and attempting to solve problems (Joyce, Weil, and Calhoun, 2015, p. 10). The scientific inquiry approach is a natural instructional strategy for me to include in my classroom.The_Scientific_Method_as_an_Ongoing_Process.svg This approach primarily focuses on science-related lessons, but I think it should be used in many different subjects. Advantages of this approach include that it allows students to experience hands-on practice and teachers are encouraged to seek “cross-cutting”concepts to identify content that is similar to other subjects (Joyce, Weil, and Calhoun, 2015, p. 72).The steps are also applicable for students when they try to solve problems outside of school. Additionally, I hope that the more practice students have using the scientific inquiry process will further benefit them in their future Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics endeavors.

Social model strategies promote a positive cooperative learning environment in which students interact during supportive learning activities (Joyce, Weil, and Calhoun, 2015, p. 12). Creating and consistently using a cooperative learning approach is very important to me when I begin teaching. The world has advanced to a global society and successful interactions requires the ability to work with people of different cultures, beliefs, and values. Cooperative learning activities should incorporate elements of positive interdependence so students can reflect on how everyone’s effort is significant and individual accountability so students recognize how their individual contribution impacted the group (Dean, Hubbell, Pitler, & Stone, 2012, p. 37). Cooperative learning activities also keep students actively thinking and they learn how to communicate their understanding and knowledge with others.

The strategies discussed in personal and behavioral systems families are crucial as well, although I think of those approaches more often at an independent, personalized level for students. Information-processing and social models requires more planning at a broader classroom approach. I look forward to discovering more about these models, instructional techniques, and experiencing how students respond to certain strategies.

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 Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson.

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).

EDU6526Week4
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.