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Group Project

December 12th, 2012

One of the things that the other group stressed in the presentation was the incorporation of John Dewey’s beliefs and teachings in their school’s model. Based on their presentation, they focused a lot of their philosophies on various aspects of Dewey. They also discussed how they would include both traditional and non-traditional forms of assessment by incorporating things like year-long projects that the students would complete in each grade level. Our group discussed the importance of aligning curriculum with not only state and national standards, but also international standards . Based on our discussions in class, this has become a topic of conversation in the educational industry because we are realizing that the education we are providing our students with may not be as good as the education that other countries are providing their students.

There are two main topics that came to my mind as opportunities for further discussion. The first topic is funding. I feel both groups struggled the most with the funding aspects of the project. I am sure the people who are in charge of the budgets have a hard time trying to figure out where they are getting money from and in what areas they can cut funds. As difficult of a topic as this may be, I feel it is beneficial as a future educator to have more information about how the budget is developed in order to have a better understanding of how the school system financially works. Another topic that I thought would be interesting to discuss is the various types of charter or magnet schools that are established throughout the country. The most common type I had heard of was math, science, and technology but I found it interesting that the other group chose to create a liberal arts school and our school was focused more on the environment, sustainability, and agriculture. I think it would be interesting to look further into the other options that are already in existence for schools.

I feel that our school was very different from the other group’s school. First of all, their school was charter based and our school was designed more as a magnet school that is still a part of public education. Their school was high school level, while ours was elementary level. I feel that our group focused more on our learning environments both indoor and outdoor more than the other group did. Similarly, however, both groups’ financial plans focused heavily on partnerships with businesses in order to fund their needs. Also, both groups felt it was important to take advantage of the environment and outdoor educational opportunities for students.

Justification for web Inquiry Activity

December 9th, 2012

The First Thanksgiving activity is an inquiry-oriented activity because it allows students to delve deeper into the everyday lives of the Pilgrims and Wampanoags. Through this activity, students look further into the clothing, houses, schools, chores, food, and games the children of the time would have been a part of. They are then able to read letters from children of the time to learn more about their daily lives. This allows the students to connect to the material in a more personal way because they are comparing the lives of these children to their own. For example, if a student likes to play with marbles, he would be excited to learn that the Pilgrim children also played with marbles. At the same time, most students that would be in my kindergarten class would not be responsible for carrying water jugs from the river. This would help put into perspective the differences between their lives today and these children’s lives long ago.

The major inquiry oriented activities include the research into the various aspects of the Pilgrim’s and Wampanoag’s daily lives. This allows the students to independently look into these things and respond to them using their own life experiences and reactions.

I feel these activities of looking at daily life of the Pilgrims and Wampanoags would intrigue students more than a lecture about The First Thanksgiving. I think this activity would be a great follow-up to an introductory lesson on the topic to allow students to search deeper into various topics of everyday life that are of interest to them. Everybody eats food, lives in some sort of a house, wears clothes, goes to school, and plays games. As kindergarteners, these aspects of daily life are comprehensible and they are able to compare these aspects of their lives to those of the Wampanoags and Pilgrims.

I will know what the students are learning by observing their interest and participation in the various activities. I will also get a broader sense of what the students have learned from the presentations they make to the class. The students will be sharing their letters and pictures about what they have learned as well as sharing two ways their lives are similar and different to the lives of the Pilgrim and/or Wampanoag children.

Curriculum and Instruction

November 25th, 2012

Students learn a large variety of things in school. This includes the academic subjects as well as citizenship and behavior. With the current trends in standards, students are now not only being required to learn the academic material, but also the critical thinking skills needed to apply this knowledge to any problem. The trends in curriculum development are following the trends in standards. Knowing students need to be able to apply critical thinking, teachers are tailoring their lessons to allow students additional opportunities to apply critical thinking skills in the classroom on a daily basis. This is often done by using non direct instruction. Non direct instruction incorporates 21st century skills, allowing students to learn by actively participating in lessons. The students learn the academic skills as well as the critical thinking skills and how to apply these skills to real life problems. This type of instruction is better aligned with the standards because students are able to analyze a problem and solve it independently. Direct instruction on the other hand is teacher guided and often in a form of a precisely designed presentation (Ornstein, Gutek, & Levine, 2011). This may be a successful method for teaching academic material that the students will be able to regurgitate, but not as successful of a method for teaching critical thinking skills and the ability to apply the academic knowledge to other problems. By incorporating non direct instruction and teaching academic lessons through 21st century skills, teachers are able to help students learn thinking and problem solving skills. Teachers can also incorporate lessons where they teach thinking and problem solving skills by solving problems with the class and saying out loud the thought process that is needed to determine how to solve the problem.

For assessing students ability to think critically in mathematics you could give students real world problems. For example, you get a puppy and need to fence in your yard, how much fencing do you need, in order to assess perimeter. Another example would be to tell the students they need to replace the flooring in their kitchen, but first they need to determine how much flooring is needed, this would assess area. By giving students these real world assessments, they are not only applying their critical thinking and problem solving skills, but they are also learning the importance of having these skills.

The below videos give good examples of direct and indirect instruction:

Direct Instruction

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EX6gm1zpSAo&feature=relmfu

Indirect Instruction Part A

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E7YCVM_Tulg

Indirect Instruction Part B

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dubGPbBdPEA&feature=relmfu

 

Reference:

Ornstein, A. C., Levine, D. U., & Gutek, G. L. (2011). Foundations of education (11th ed.) Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

What Qualities a Teacher Needs to Have

November 18th, 2012

First and foremost teachers need to be able to relate to and engage the students they are working with. Not everyone is meant to be a teacher. If the prospective teacher is easily frustrated by students of various age groups then maybe she should reconsider her profession choice. Teachers need to be knowledgeable of the material they are teaching. As an elementary teacher, it is important to understand how students learn how to read and the basics of each subject you would be teaching. As a high school teacher, an in-depth knowledge of the subject is required, through either an advanced degree in the subject or hands-on experience. In addition to knowing the material, a teacher needs to know how to teach the material. Teachers need to be able to look at a chapter in a textbook and plan out a way to teach their students the material in a way that is engaging to them. This requires being abreast of the research that is available to teachers that focuses on new methods of teaching. This can be different types of technologies that can be used in the classroom or simply different approaches of introducing the material. The education industry, like many industries, is always changing. There is consistently new research being done that changes the way students are determined to learn the best. In order to successfully teach students I feel it is important to have a certain amount of organization and ability to plan out each day’s activities ahead of time. However, a teacher must also be able to think on their feet and change up how they are teaching a lesson, sometimes in the middle of the lesson if the students are not grasping the necessary concepts. Teachers must also have a genuine care for the future knowledge and well-being of their students. As the teacher you need to ensure every student is putting forth effort and that you have differentiated to meet each student’s level. Additionally, especially as an elementary school teacher, it is important to teach the students simple life skills, for example tying their shoes, and skills of citizenship. At the younger grade levels, students are often still learning how to interact with one another and do things like share and use manners. As the teacher, it is important to teach these skills in addition to the academic skills that are being taught in the classroom.

Overall, I would say that even though you may be able to test a teacher’s academic knowledge of specific subjects, many of the necessary skills that teachers must have are not easily tested. A lot of these skills are personal skills that people either naturally have or do not have. I do however feel that it is fairly easy to determine if a person has these skills or not by simply talking to them or watching the person interact with students. No matter what the purpose of education is or the methods used to educate the students, these untestable skills are necessary.

Below is an article that discusses evaluating qualified teachers.

http://voices.yahoo.com/a-guide-hiring-evaluating-quality-teachers-436232.html

Inclusive Classrooms

November 10th, 2012

No matter what school you teach at, you are likely going to have a broad range of student levels. An inclusive classroom may include special needs students who are severely handicapped, and students who are tremendously gifted. As the teacher in this classroom it is your responsibility to reach each and every one of your students. Even though this may seem to be an impossible task to do at times, the only way to meet each students needs is to differentiate as much as possible.

In a gifted classroom, the curriculum and instruction is likely to move at a much quicker pace and even with a more individualized, hands-off approach. Often times, the teachers in gifted classrooms will do a quick explanation of new material and then allow students to practice on their own and be available for any questions the students may have. Some people may see this approach as more of a self-taught method. The thought behind this is if students are able to understand the material, why waste time going over things as a class. If there were a student who is gifted and talented in my classroom I would make sure I did the necessary paperwork to have them assessed for the gifted and talented program. Often the gifted and talented program does not include all of the subjects that a student is gifted in. In that case, or in the case that the student were not accepted into the program I would explore supplemental material that I could give the student to enhance the pre-established curriculum in the classroom.

Collaboration with other teachers is also an important aspect to help with differentiating a classroom. If there were gifted students in my classroom, I would consult with the gifted resource teacher and possibly teachers from the grade above what I was teaching to help pull in more challenging material for the gifted students. For my students who may be below grade level and are struggling, I would talk with the resource teachers who provide additional assistance to struggling students as well as other grade level teachers and even teachers from the grade level below. By speaking with these different teachers I am able to obtain as many resources as possible to help provide the best education for my students.

To help prepare for teaching students with disabilities it is important to educate yourself on some disabilities that you may encounter in the classroom. Another fantastic opportunity to help prepare you is to volunteer or substitute in special needs classrooms. This way you can see first-hand the types of things you may encounter in your own classroom. It is also important to remember that no two children are alike. Once you find out there will be a student with a disability in your classroom, it is your responsibility to review their file and educate yourself on their needs. You can educate yourself by doing additional independent research, but the best resources to go to are the teachers who work with these students on a daily basis. Ask them what will work best for the particular student and maintain a relationship with them throughout the school year.

The below websites are some resources to assist teachers in differentiating lessons.

http://www.readworks.org/tutorials/differentiating-lessons

http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/article/8-lessons-learned-differentiating-instruction

http://www.teach-nology.com/tutorials/teaching/differentiate/

http://www.und.nodak.edu/dept/ehd/journal/Fall%202004/sands.pdf

http://www.disabilitystudiesforteachers.org/index.php?id=Differentiated%20Instruction

How Student Race and Social Class Impact the Classroom

November 4th, 2012

As far as social class and race are concerned, I don’t feel they will play a strong role in how I will run my classroom. This may sound contradictory to what we have all read about, but let me explain myself. I will always be cognizant of the factor that students may not have access to all of the same things and that this is often affected by social class, but no matter what type of school I am teaching and what social classes are present, I will always strive to make sure each of my students have equal opportunities to succeed in my classroom. I plan on either sending out a survey asking about the student access to a computer, internet, etc. and what types of supplies they have available at home (pencils, crayons, etc.) or discussing these things with the parents directly. This way I will know what I can reasonably expect from my students when they are working at home. If students need supplies, I will work with organizations to send home basic school supplies. If students in the class do not have access to computers, I will be sure to incorporate technology in the classroom, but not necessarily expect them to be able to have access to technology at home. No matter what the circumstances for my students may be at home, I will make sure to promote equality amongst my students in the classroom.

This leads me to why I feel various races within my classroom will not have a strong effect on my teaching. As the book discusses, there are African American individuals who are more successful than groups of white Americans (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011). This is proof to me that the color of your skin does not solely determine the path you will go down in life. Unfortunately, there are many groups of African Americans or other minorities that feel they are entitled to additional assistance simply because of the wrongdoings that were done to their ancestors. There is also a large group of minorities that feel they can only achieve as much as other people in their neighborhood or family before them has achieved. If this were how the entire population felt, there would be no Bill Gates or Steve Jobs in our society. It is important to me to emphasize to my students that I do not care what color their skin is or who in their family has failed; all I care about is their success. No matter what social class, race, or ethnicity they are from, when they walk into my classroom, every single one of them is completely equal. I feel it is important to stress that no matter where you come from, it is up to you and you alone to make something of yourself. There are plenty of “rich kids” out there who have gone down the wrong paths and found themselves in jail, but at the same time there are a lot of people who came from minority, low socioeconomic status, uneducated families who have beat the odds that were put on them and have become CEOs of large companies. If each student decides individually to do whatever it takes to becomes successful, I have full confidence in their abilities to be successful and as their teacher I will help them make the decisions in their education that they need to make to put themselves on the path to success. As their teacher I don’t feel it is my job to feel bad for my students and coddle them or expect any less from them just because statistics say they are less likely to be successful than other students in the class. I think it is my job to teach them to throw the statistics out the window and dedicate themselves to proving these statistics wrong.

I feel that if more teachers taught their students from this point of view, we may be able to make a difference on how various racial groups are viewed in society and within schools. This would in turn change how students view themselves and will eventually make a difference in society as a whole. No matter what a student’s home life may be, once they step foot into a classroom, they must all be placed on an equal playing field with consistent positive encouragement. This should be what all students receive from their teacher regardless of social class or race.

Reference

Ornstein, A. C., Levine, D. U., & Gutek, G. L. (2011). Foundations of education (11th ed.) Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

 

The below article discusses the difficulty of having true equity among students of different race and/or class.

 

http://math.coe.uga.edu/tme/issues/monograph1/mono1_Reed.pdf

 

Integrating New Technologies in the Classroom

November 4th, 2012

This week we explored many different forms of technology that can be integrated in the classroom. Integrating technology into lessons gives students the ability to take a hands-on approach that they may otherwise not be able to take. The hands-on approach of investigating encourages students to ask questions and become more engaged (Coffman, 2009). By peaking a student’s interest in learning they are more likely to be successful with the material being taught. The first tools we looked at were virtual worlds. At first, I was hesitant about how these could appropriately be integrated into the classroom. After venturing through some parts of Second Life, I can see how this could be a useful tool especially in upper elementary and above. I feel these students are not always thrilled about going to museums or learning about different things in history, but through Second Life they are able to learn through a Virtual World. I was extremely impressed by the museums that have been created in Second Life to teach students able many different topics. I do feel that as the teacher I would need to do a lot more research on Second Life to ensure it was safe for students to be on before I allowed my students to use it in the classroom, but I do feel there is at least potential for me to venture around the virtual world on the Smart Board. We also investigated some other virtual worlds that are more self-contained, or not open to where the students could be interacting with other people. I feel these are fantastic ideas for incorporating technology in the classroom. I have seen some games similar to the ones we explored in class actually in use in the classroom and the students really seem to enjoy them and learn a lot from them. Playing various games in virtual worlds is what many of the students like to do for fun, so if we as teachers can incorporate learning into what the students enjoy, I feel the students will obtain and retain the material much better.

We also looked at the new technology that is being used to instantly look things up and project them onto any surface. I definitely feel this is the future of not only a classroom, but society in general. Based on the projected costs for a device like this, I feel this will become the next iPad in the future. If this does take off in society in general, I am sure it will also be brought into schools. I do not see a huge difference between what I could do with this device and a Smart Board other than the factor that it is portable to anywhere I go. That is a handy idea for everyday life, but in the classroom I don’t know that I would find it much more useful than a Smart Board.

The last thing we looked at in class was the use of applications in the classroom. I have already seen and influx in the use of apps in the classrooms I work in. many teachers have personal iPads that they have downloaded various educational apps onto that they allow the students to play at school. I have also seen where a third grade teacher downloaded an app that she can talk into that will then translate what she says into Korean for a student who does not speak any English. This app has been a life saver in communications between the student and teacher. Additionally, there have become several apps to assist teachers. Some of these apps are for grade keeping, note keeping, etc. Overall, there are many different types of apps with many different uses in the classroom.

Reference

Coffman, T. (2009). Engaging students through inquiry-oriented learning and technology (1st ed.). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Education.

Culture, Socialization, and Education

October 28th, 2012

Many Americans with European backgrounds tend to place great value on the individual. Many Americans, such as those with Asian backgrounds, tend to place greater value on the family or society or to the value the group and the individual equally. Consider this, you are teaching a fourth-grade class with many Asian American children in it. How will the difference in values between Anglo-European American and Asian American students affect your teaching and your relationships with students and parents?

 

First of all, as a teacher it is important to be able to adapt to and successfully work with all types of people from all over the world. That being said, I feel the most important thing to be sure of from the beginning is to be open and welcoming to all people. I would like to keep open invitations to parents who would like to be involved in the classroom. However, I also understand that in some cultures this would be an atypical practice and that is fine as well. I will begin the school year with showing how all students are equal no matter their cultural background or gender. I will try to incorporate heterogeneous groupings of students not only by ability, but also culturally and by gender. I feel students will be able to receive a greater view through these perspectives. Due to various teachings around the world that can at times some across as the female gender being below the male gender or not as deserving, I will respect the differences I see between the genders in the classroom, but at the same time I will also do my best to make sure the students know that they are all equal to me.

I will also do my best to incorporate some additional Asian influences in the classroom. For example, I would try to include doing a piece on the Chinese New Year if some of my students were from China. I feel this is a way that the Anglo-European American students can learn first-hand culture from their peers that they may otherwise not have the opportunity to learn about. The use of mass media and educational technology could be helpful in incorporating things from Asia in the classroom. For example, with today’s technologies, the students in my classroom could be “pen pals” with students in Asia. We could also use things like Google Maps to visually see different places in Asia.

After reading the Chinese proverb, “Tell me and I forget. Show me and I remember. Involve me and I understand” it makes me think about the fact that it may be important for my Asian American students to be able to learn concepts from a more hands on approach. I do, however, feel that each learner should be looked at as an individual versus being grouped together based on culture. That being said, no matter the cultural breakdown of my classroom, I will assess each student as an individual to find out how they learn material best. No matter what, I plan on incorporating as many approaches as possible in my classroom, but if a huge percentage of my students are visual learners I will make sure that each lesson has a visual component.

 

The below video reviews the three types of learning styles and some tips for students to help direct their studying once they know what learning style works best for them.

Mini Projects Week 2

October 28th, 2012

This week I investigated an online tool called Timetoast. Timetoast is a website that allows you to create a timeline of any event. This would be especially helpful when learning different topics in social studies. As the teacher I could create a timeline of various events, for example the different explorers and when they went on their missions and what they found. Also, students could take the information they have been taught in class and create their own timelines of the information that we have learned. This timeline could then be used as a study aid for tests. Another interesting way to use this tool would be to create a timeline and add events to them throughout the year that correspond to the different historical events that were discussed in class. This would be a fantastic review for students at the end of the year and could even be used as a review for the SOL test. By creating the timeline on this website, students are not responsible for keeping track of a timeline on paper that could easily be lost and the timeline would be available to them anywhere they were able to access the internet.

I chose to use this tool as a timeline of the school year. I incorporated the various holidays that are part of the standards for kindergarten and first grade. I also included the holidays that younger students are familiar with, for example, Valentine’s Day and Halloween. I would then pull up the timeline at the beginning of each month and discuss the events and people we will be celebrating that month. I feel the use of the timeline is a great way for students to visualize the order in which these events occur. Additionally, one of the first grade standards is the student will interpret information presented in picture timelines to show sequence of events and will distinguish among past, present, and future. The incorporation of the timeline on a regular basis will help enforce this standard.

The other tool I investigated is Google Fusion Tables. These tables can be used similar to those in Excel. However, by creating them through Google, they are accessible wherever the internet is available and they are able to be created collaboratively. This is convenient for students working on group projects or even graphing the entire class’s data into one graph. Each student could individually input his data then the teacher could pull up the graph in class to visually display the class’s information. The convenience of using Google Fusion Tables over Excel is the accessibility and collaborative capabilities. The other benefit of Google Fusion Tables is some of the added features, but overall if you are able to create a table and graph in Excel, you should have no problems using Google Fusion Tables.

Mini Projects Part 1

October 21st, 2012

The various technology tools we explored this week all bring interesting ideas into the classroom. I did not investigate the comics, but I think students would really enjoy being able to create their own comics. For some students this could be a fantastic way to get them interested in writing that would otherwise be boring to them. Creating the comics would also be a great way for students to share their writings and the comic books could be placed in the classroom library. The digital story telling is an interesting way of telling a story about someone or something. I think this would be great for creating things like virtual biographies on historical people. This could also be used to tell a story that students have written. The digital stories we watched in class were very moving which makes me think about students even telling their own autobiographies through digital storytelling. The podcasts would be great ways to record lessons that students miss due to absences that the students could then listen to at home. Also, these podcasts could be used by students who did not fully understand the concept being taught the first time they heard the lesson. The students could go back and listen to the parts they may have missed and play the recording at whatever pace they need. Students could also record themselves and use the podcasts they create as a tool for studying different types of information they need to know for a test. One of the tools I chose to investigate further is Voki. I really enjoyed creating a talking avatar. I think the avatar could be used in many different ways in the classroom. My though on using the avatar is to have him on our class website. The students would become accustomed to clicking on him if they don’t know what to do on each page, if they cannot read the page themselves, or if they just need more information. The character used for the avatar could then become almost like a classroom mascot.  As the teacher, I would want to incorporate the avatar into some of the learning centers the students may use in the classroom, especially things like games on the Smart Board. This way the avatar can tell the students the rules and how to play. Having this available to students would eliminate some of the repetitive questions that the students would have to ask the teacher. The other tool I investigated further is Wordle. I have mixed feelings on Wordle. I think the end result looks cool, but I feel unless you purposely type specific words in a specific number of times, you may not receive the affect you are looking for. I do think it is interesting to use Wordle for something like the presidential speeches we looked at in class. I think this is a cool way of showing what is likely the most important things to the given president. From this information I feel this could create a very interesting classroom discussion. Overall, I definitely think Wordle is a great tool for some specific tasks, but I don’t feel it is as versatile as other tools we have looked at this semester.

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