This course has allowed me to practice important skills when it comes to lesson planning and assessment. Utilizing specific formats and looking deeply into the learning standards I will need to use has been greatly beneficial. Reflecting on SPU program standard 4 Content Knowledge, I have acquired this knowledge throughout coursework such as the Mid Quarter lesson design. (Figure 1). I examined the state standard for 3rd grade math fractions and crafted a lesson that would allow for practice activities and formative assessment throughout. It was helpful to use the same format I will use during my teacher internship and edTPA so I know what to expect. Looking closely at Component 1e: Designing Coherent Instruction, I demonstrate knowledge of this by allowing for multiple learning strategies for student needs. Allowing for visual, building, and listening learners, the lesson will be accessible to a variety of student learning styles. I am continuing to work on a coherent progression and structure in my final lesson design as I became a little ambitious and overwhelming when it came to introducing and operating with fractions.
Our course readings allowed for further understanding of designing curricula to effectively support student understanding. Rosenshine (2012) describes introducing material in small chunks so as not to overwhelm. Also including time for questions and student practice helps retention of new material. “ . . . teachers used this extra time to provide additional explanations, give many examples, check for student understanding, and provide sufficient instruction so that the students could learn to work independently without difficulty.” (Rosenshine, 2012, p 32). This will be important to keep in mind as I design and deliver new content so students feel successful. Allowing myself adequate time for material to sink in and be understood will be necessary as I progress through the learning standards. Coming back to these readings and practice activities as I work through my first year of teaching will greatly aid my effectiveness in the classroom.
SChrisman MidQuarter Lesson
Rosenshine, B. (2012). Principles of Instruction: Research based strategies that all teachers should know. American Educator: Education Digest. p 30-40.
Although this topic doesn’t revolve around the main theme of Special Education, I believe it still relates to grouping students based on their abilities and developmental levels. The debate over tracking and leveling comes down to students having the possibility of feeling isolated into groups. Tom Loveless (1998) argues that there is not enough research to back the points regarding discrimination of students being labeled as underachievers. This method of teaching actually helps students and gets them to the next level, teaching them appropriate material that is not overwhelmingly challenging. Jeannie Oakes (1999) writes that tracking groups actually works to isolate students that harms students academic image. Students are assumed that have all the same learning capabilities based on their tracking group.
I can see the benefit of having students together, working on similar material that is appropriate for them. These groups should be regularly assessed and flexible enough for students to move in and out of different groups. There is always the fear of isolation and separation with our classes which is something to avoid. There is a right way to handle ability tracking without allowing those feelings of entitlement and poor self worth. “Grouping is a more flexible, less permanent arrangement of students that takes into account factors in addition to ability, such as motivation, interests, instructional levels, and student efforts.” (Renzulli and Reis, 1991) The difference between tracking and grouping should be distinguished so students do not feel like they are identified at a certain level. These groupings can be helpful and effective to challenge student thinking and learning.
Renzulli and Reis. (1991) The Reform Movement and the Quiet Crisis in Gifted Education. Gifted Child Quarterly. (35, 26-35)
Religion and family values will always be a controversial topic. The range of religious and cultural backgrounds students come from is huge. They are personal morals that affect the way families carry out their lives. There is bound to be conflict and that can be seen in regards to religion in school. McConnell (1995) argues that students should have the right to worship and pray in school. The First Amendment guarantees their right to practice religion in school and their freedom of religion has transformed to freedom from religion. Gaylor (1995) says religious actions were never banned from the schools but rather not institutionally taught. Religion is a private affair and all students have the right to hold their own values but forcing religion on students is not the correct method. Neutrality is key so all students feel welcome and accepted.
Both authors bring up important concepts on this controversial topic. I would side more with Gaylor’s argument of being accepting of all religions without tying them in to educational material. When prayer becomes involved into public education, separation and conflict . “Religion is private, and schools are public, so it is appropriate that the two should not mix. To introduce religion in our public schools builds walls between children who may not have been aware . . . “ (Gaylor, 1995) We want to keep kids on the same level so everyone has a right to learn. Accepting differences is crucial in schools so all feel welcome. We still should be careful around family values of religion so not to divide our students based on their beliefs.
Gaylor, A. L. (1995). “The Case Against School Prayer.” The Freedom from Religious Education Inc.