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.

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.

Student Teaching Reflection 1

Learning Environment – The teacher fosters and manages a safe and inclusive learning environment that takes into account: physical, emotional and intellectual well-being.

It is essential that schools cultivate a community of trust and respect so all students feel welcomed and supported throughout the school day. In every classroom, teachers incorporate research-based teaching methods to promote a supportive learning community where students needs are acknowledged and fulfilled. Students frequently participate in a cooperative learning environment. Cooperative learning helps students figure out how to work together, support each other’s learning, and reflect on their individual learning (Dean, Hubbell, Pitler, & Stone, 2012, p. 32). Teachers who incorporate cooperative learning are also fostering a supportive learning environment. Beesley & Aptorp’s research concluded that additional benefits of cooperative learning include increased academic and socioemotional achievement, higher self-esteem, and decreased feelings of isolation in school (as cited in Dean, Hubbell, Pitler, & Stone, 2012, p. 46).

Before beginning my student teaching experience, I had not considered how cooperative learning operates in a Kindergarten classroom. I also had not thought about how the basic skills needed during cooperative learning also help a teacher ensure students feel like a significant member of the classroom. I quickly discovered there are a few unique qualities about Kindergarten. Kindergarteners are learning what it means to be a student, how to participate in academic activities, and how to engage in social interactions. The foundation of cooperative learning is built during Kindergarten as students focus on fundamental life skills like respect, sharing, being kind, and helping others.

As displayed in the picture on the left, my mentor teacher incorporates social skills as part of the students’ learning goals. These skills support a positive classroom culture. Learning social skills helps students’ transition throughout the school day, interact with their peers, and provide assistance to each other during lessons. There is a constant reminder that everyone should practice kindness, caring, and sharing. This focus helps students remember how to cooperate with each other as they line up for recess or inquire about each other’s work. Eventually these skills will aid students as they participate in cooperative learning activities.

Throughout the next few months, a teaching goal of mine is to incorporate more cooperative learning opportunities in addition to social skills learning goals. I think more group-oriented learning tasks will be a great time for students to discover how their developing social skills are utilized during academic activities. A stronger learning environment will be built as students gain confidence working with each other.

Reference

Dean, C.B., Hubbell, E.R., Pitler, H., Stone, Bj. (2012). Classroom instruction that works: Research-based strategies for increasing student achievement. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Autumn Field Experience Reflection

Learning Environment – The teacher fosters and manages a safe and inclusive learning environment that takes into account: physical, emotional and intellectual well-being.

Teaching goes beyond helping students acquire knowledge and skills. Teachers also use their professional judgment to assess students’ emotional and physical health. These two factors often influence a student’s ability to learn, their confidence, and their sense of security. Creating a community of trust includes the teacher building relationships with students by learning about their interests and personalities.

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Figure 1 – Washington State DSHS Guide

Figure 1 is a reminder that child abuse and neglect can occur within any group of people. A child’s safety and well-being is a basic human right, so reports made to CPS help ensure children live in safe environments. In 2006, over 78,000 CPS reports were made in Washington. CPS conducted a further investigation in just under less than half of those reports.

Child abuse and neglect is difficult for teachers to think about, yet it is critical to be aware of abuse signs and know how to talk with students if the issue arises. Teachers should regularly review their school district’s policy on reporting child abuse and neglect. In the event reporting is necessary, it is best to be prepared about the appropriate resources and procedures.

At the beginning of the school year, my mentor teacher had made about five CPS reports concerning child abuse and neglect during her eight years of teaching. I visited her class in mid-November and she was preparing to make her third CPS report this school year. In two of the situations this year, the children reported an issue to her that caused concern to find out more information. In the third situation she observed a drastic change in the child’s personality and mood. She has reported physical abuse, emotional abuse, and neglect. The protocol at her elementary school is that the student talks with the school counselor after a potential issue is discovered. By the end of the school day, the teacher and the school counselor notify the principal that a report will be made. The school counselor is generally present when the teacher calls CPS.

While is it distressing my mentor teacher has already made three CPS reports this year, I think it is because her students feel truly comfortable in her classroom. They know she cares about them, which is why they trust her with sensitive information about their personal lives. She allows them the opportunity to express themselves and share stories. She has so many high need students that I think she should try to schedule a regular time for quick check-ins to ensure she is meeting with everyone. There is a 10-minute block when students return from recess before going to either P.E. or music. It has been challenging for her to use that time academically, so that might be an opportunity to meet with students individually.

Teachers start building the classroom’s learning environment beginning with their first interaction with students. The teacher-student relationship is essential for earning students trust and motivating them to excel academically. The school community balances academic growth as well as emotional and physical development.

Reference

Washington State Department of Health and Social Services – Children’s Administration. (2010). Protecting the abused and neglected child – A guide for recognizing and reporting child abuse (DSHS – 22-163).

 

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 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

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.