Student Teaching Reflection 2

Instruction: The teacher uses research-based instructional practices to meet the needs of all students. This standard reflects the importance of teachers thinking about individual student needs while creating lesson plans and activities. A teacher must ponder questions such as: “what do my students need help learning?” “how do my students best learn new material?” and “what types of learning activities will help all my students succeed?”

This week the Kindergarteners have been learning to read and write ten color words: green, blue, purple, red, yellow, orange, black, brown, white, and gray. According to Bennett and Desforges (1988), learning activities tend to be organized into four categories: incremental, practice, restructuring, and enrichment (as cited in Marzano, 2007, p. 175). The learning activities in this color word focus incorporated mostly incremental and practice tasks. A variety of tasks were planned so students were consistently involved in learning activities and developed a deeper level of comprehension through repeated practice and engagement (Marzano, 2007, p. 176). Throughout the week, students read color words in various subjects and texts, practiced writing color words during handwriting, and listened as color words were pronounced and spelled audibly. The next few pictures show a few examples of students working on different color word activities.

In Picture One, a student has finished practicing writing “black” in a Color Word Handwriting Packet I created for the students.

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Picture One

In Picture Two, a student is coloring the word “yellow” in a Color Reading Book my mentor teacher created.

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Picture Two

In Picture Three, a student points to the word “blue” while reading a book about the many colors in the ocean.

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Picture Three

The range of activities kept students engaged all week. By Thursday, I observed about five students who were fluently reading more common color words (blue, red, yellow, and green) in their books and some started incorporating these color words into their writing. I think planning multiple tasks throughout all subjects really helped all the students gain a deeper level of understanding. I also think it was really important to plan at least one activity a day that focused on color words. The activities reinforced what students had learned and provided opportunities for them to practice their new knowledge.

I was very impressed by the students’ growth within one week. If I had planned differently, I would have had students complete a color word preassessment. Then I could accurately assess how many additional color words all students learned this week instead of their success being based on my observation. In the future, I plan on teaching students number words so I will prepare an appropriate preassessment so then I can monitor students’ progress. Next week, the class will continue learning color words. I plan to include more handwriting activities so all students think about including colors as a detail into their writing and stories. One more change for next week is an increased focus on the less the common color words (black, brown, gray, and white) since those are the color words I observed all students need more exposure to learning.

Reference:

Marzano, R. J. (2007). The art and science of teaching: A comprehensive framework for effective instruction. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

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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.

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/

 

 

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.