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.
Session 1 National Standards vs Individualization
An issue causing debate with educational leaders is the idea of a national curriculum and standards for all students. This would have every student learning the same material and assessed on the same standards. Robert Hutchins (1953) argues that the purpose of education is to improve people and create intellectual and moral citizens. If everyone had access to the same education with the same standards, there would be no disparity between groups and people would remain equal and free in society. Theodore Sizer (1999) argues that people are inherently different and schools should embrace these differences. This makes for more meaningful education and a place for students to perfect skills they are passionate about.
I can see the value of both Hutchins and Sizer in their thoughts of national standards and curriculum. I would side more with Sizer’s arguments even though it would mean more work on the teacher’s part and creative solutions to assessing student’s growth. If each student had their own rubric for grading it would be much more difficult to see where the class was achieving as a whole. This system truly favors the child though and prepares them for doing their part in society. “ . . . the insistent coaxing out of each child on his or her best terms of profoundly important intellectual habits and tools for enriching a democratic society . . . “ (Sizer, 1999, p 11) Each student has strengths and something special to offer that creates balance in our world. Kids need opportunities to discover their skills and examine how best they can influence their fellow citizens.
Sizer, T. R. (1999). No Two are Quite Alike. Educational Leadership (57: 1) p. 7-11.
Digital Citizenship is important for students so they understand proper and appropriate behavior with technology and in online settings. Students are using technology usually on a daily basis and the same morals and values from offline interactions apply. At times it can be difficult for adults and teachers to track and monitor online activity so reinforcing these concepts will encourage digital etiquette. Having a poster for students to reference is a great way to get them thinking about appropriate use with technology. It also gives parents and families great ideas to practice at home. The home school connection is important to remain consistent.
Students should also be aware of safe practices with digital resources and tools such as up to date virus protection. There are a lot of personal information and documents we save on our computers so making sure we are protecting ourselves with current and effective software is needed. Physical safety is also good to be aware of such as eye safety and proper posture when using devices. It is easy to create bad habits and spend a long amount of time on our computers. Making sure we are using safe practices and taking breaks in between longer assignments will allow our students to decrease injury as digital citizens.
Triggering Question: As an elementary teacher, how can I model life long learning by promoting and demonstrating the effective use of digital tools and resources?
In order for teachers to continuously improve their professional practice with the use of digital tools and resources, teachers must understand what is available to them and opportunities for collaboration with colleagues. There are many resources that benefit teacher understanding of the changing field of technology. The US Department of Education released their Technology Plan for schools to adopt allowing teachers access to multiple learning communities. They called this “connected teaching” which uses technology to create digital online communities for effective results. Teachers can form communities with students, fellow teachers, administrators, or education specialists to collectively collaborate on educational issues. Connected teaching provides new ways of interaction that improves professional practice through new activities such as online posting, discussions, and animations for instruction and quizzing. Using new digital tools with students models life-long learning by the teacher as they are experimenting with new tools to increase effectiveness of their instruction.
A member in my learning community who is focusing on physical and health education posted a link to a site that has up to date information on health and fitness strategies in school. It informs educators of upcoming opportunities for in person professional development. This is an example of a site that allows teachers to stay current with changes happening to programs such as health and fitness. It lets teachers make effective use of emerging digital resources and model for students how to stay current on professional issues.
US Department of Education. (2010). Transforming American Education Learning Powered by Technology. Washington D.C. (38-50)
Shape America: Soceity of Health and Physical Educators. (2016) Retrieved on March
13, 2016, from http://www.shapeamerica.org/
One of the learning families I want to summarize from this course is the process of inductive teaching. Constructing ideas and concepts from the students themselves provides meaning and engagement. This method of teaching can be scary to some teachers as there is not a direct goal or path when working with students. Generating ideas from the students is a great way to get their minds thinking and brainstorming. The next step is focusing on one topic to promote deep thinking and comprehension. “One is focusing the investigation, helping the students concentrate on a domain (an area of inquiry) they can master, without constricting them so much that they can’t use their full abilities to generate ideas.” ( Calhoun, Joyce, & Weil, 2015, p 42) Giving students the freedom to choose their own domains allows them to collectively pull together a meaningful topic where they can be most successful.
Another social learning method is role playing. Students are able to develop social skills, investigate social issues, and develop empathy when working with one another. By putting themselves in different simulated roles, they can discover their own values and how best to work with others. “It explores how values drive behavior and raises student consciousness about the role of values in their lives.” (Calhoun, Joyce, & Weil, 2015, p 258) Students can begin to figure out how to interact cooperatively with others and respectfully disagree when conflict arises. Humans are inherently social and giving students the time and space to develop these skills with provide them with long term benefits.
Calhoun, E., Weil, M., & Joyce, B. (2015). Models of Teaching. (9th ed.) Boston: Pearson.