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.

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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/

 

 

Teaching Values

The American education system has always included value-based curriculum as part of lessons in either a formal or informal manner. Schools create rules that students are expected to follow typically revolving around respect, commitment, honesty, and teamwork. Figure 1 below lists many of the fundamental values taught by schools, families, cultures, and religions.

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Figure 1 (Retrieved from http://www.newtampamasjid.org)

According to Joyce, Weil, & Calhoun (2015), studying values is important because students learn to think more critically about how their personal behavior and values impact their decisions and other people. Teaching values to children includes several considerations. How do you decide what are important values and do those values align with students’ cultures and home life? Why are certain values taught? How do you incorporate virtue lessons in classroom instruction? And perhaps the most important question is can values actually be taught?

Russell Kirk (1987) stated, “Can virtue be taught? Why, it can be learnt, though more through a kind of illative process than as a formal program of study…” I think Kirk’s statement is accurate because ideally, values would be learned through personal reflection and motivation. A formal program exposes students to what virtues are and what they mean, but the formality does not help students understand why people hold certain values and how values impact daily life. Parents, teachers, and other mentors can guide virtue lessons by having students think about why they believe in certain values and how those values influence their decisions. One strategy to teach children about values is through role playing. The basics of role playing involve providing students with a problem situation in which the outcomes are affected by an individual’s virtue and students act out the roles of people in the scenario. Role playing is an opportunity for students to model positive behaviors and interactions, work together to assess social issues, and practice a democratic way of solving issues (Joyce, Weil, & Calhoun, 2015, pgs. 261-262). This is also an effective kinesthetic activity since as children move around while acting out different roles, more neural networks are being developed in their brain so the learning is retained longer (Dean, Hubbell, Pitler, & Stone, 2012, p. 73).

Coordinating students to act out certain scenarios aligns more with teaching values instead of students learning values on their own, but I do not believe most children will learn the importance of values and how to think about them without some direction. A benefit of role playing is students experience how their actions and values impact other people and they spend time thinking about why someone might decide differently. This activity is interactive and involves higher thinking skills than a student reading about virtues or listening to a lecture. Teachers should not rely on one method to teach students about morals. Teachers should also consider modeling virtues, complimenting students when they practice a positive behavior, or initiating discussions about decisions made by historical figures or characters from stories. These activities provide ample opportunities for students to observe actions, think about outcomes, and decide how they want to represent themselves and their community.

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.

Kirk, R. (1987). The wise men know what wicked things are written in the sky. Washington, D.C.: Regnery Gateway.

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.

Advance Organizers

One teaching method to consider when planning lessons is to organize information so learners start making connections between the new concepts and prior knowledge before teaching any details. This idea is an advance organizer approach. An advance organizer is a strategic teaching method that incorporates pictures, videos, stories, or other materials at the beginning of a lesson to stimulate students to think about important concepts, identify relationships, and activate prior knowledge (Dean, Hubbell, Pitler, & Stone, 2012, p. 51). This is a different approach then when teachers preview a lesson by discussing objectives or reviewing materials at the start of each lesson. Two main benefits of using advance organizers is that it strengthens how students acquire and retain information (Joyce, Weil, & Calhoun, 2015, p. 200).

Figure 1: Advance Organizer Process (Retrieved from tccl.rigt.albany.edu/knilt/index.php.Unit_2_Content_ Guide)

As shown in Figure 1 on the left, there are three phases to this teaching model. First, the teacher introduces the advance organizer at the beginning of a lesson to activate prior knowledge. The second step is the presentation of the learning tasks or activities so students begin organizing information. Third, cognitive development is strengthened as students integrate the content and acquire new knowledge.

I primarily envision utilizing this strategy at the beginning of major units or lessons. I think it is a necessary method because otherwise the amount of information can be overwhelming for students. It provides a logical way for students to organize the larger concepts before thinking about the details. Also, during future lessons it will be helpful to reference back to the advance organizers that have already been discussed. This helps students reflect on how their knowledge has grown and why organizing information is beneficial. Another situation when this strategy can be used is if I observe students are struggling with connecting concepts. I can approach the next lesson differently by starting with an advance organizer. While it is important for students to learn about their own interests, it also my responsibility to teach students to organize their knowledge and understand connections between concepts.

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.

 

The Learning Process

One of my goals is to understand how people learn so I can practice more effective teaching methods. A standard teaching strategy generally involves a teacher providing information to students and expecting them to memorize everything. Next, the teacher assigns homework or worksheets focused on fact-based information. At the end of a unit, students usually complete a multiple-choice test to evaluate how well they have remembered specific facts. This is a repetitive process that rarely advances a student’s thinking skills. It is not my intention to primarily use a memorization strategy, but I do believe memorization is an important part of the learning process. A major teaching objective is to help my students learn how to remember what they are taught and to know how that information will eventually assist them in critical thinking.

Students can practice a variety of memorization techniques depending on what they are attempting to remember. Joyce, Weil, & Calhoun (2015) present a four-phase process to help students memorize information. The four phases of memorization are: 1) attending to the material; 2) identifying connections; 3) using techniques to expand sensory images; and 4) practicing recalling the information until it is completely learned (Joyce, Weil, & Calhoun, 2015).The strategy used in each phase will depend on what type of content is being taught and learned. Eventually students learn which strategies are best applied to what they want to memorize.

Memorization is an important part of the learning process because students scaffold their knowledge and thoughts before applying different thinking strategies. Benjamin Bloom’s Taxonomy of the Intellectual Processes aptly describes how the learning and thinking process develops. Bloom’s original model of taxonomy was created in 1956. The 1956 model categorizes the learning process into six domains, with knowledge as the first domain to be mastered before achieving success at higher levels (Armstrong, 2016). In 2001, the categories were relabeled as verbs in order to more distinctly demonstrate how people discover and apply their knowledge (Armstrong, 2016). Figures 1 and 2 below are examples of the original and revised versions. Both images include a short description explaining how learning occurs in each category.

BloomsTaxonomyOriginal
Figure 1: Original Version from 1956. (Image retrieved from http://www.uaa.alaska.edu).

 

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Figure 2: Revised version from 2001. (Armstrong, 2016).

 

As shown in both models, memorization is a significant part of the learning process since it must be mastered before moving up to the next level. Once students remember and understand knowledge, then I can apply other teaching strategies that guide students to a deeper thinking process. Bloom’s Taxonomy is a valuable resource for me to reference when planning lessons and to assess where my students are in the learning process. It is also important to share this model with students so they are cognizant of how their learning progresses overtime. I believe once students are aware of how learning occurs, then they will be more successful at mastering each level.

References

Armstrong, P. (2016). Bloom’s Taxonomy. Retrieved from: https://cft.vanderbilt.edu/guides-sub-pages/blooms-taxonomy/

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

Student Affairs, University of Alaska Anchorage. (2012). The Assessment Cycle. Retrieved from: https://www.uaa.alaska.edu/studentaffairs/assessment/assessment-cycle.cfm