TL Standard 10

TL Standard 10

During the course EDU 6526 Instructional Strategies, I was able to explore several research-based instructional practices. Some of which I was familiar with, others I had not had the opportunity to explore or dive deep into with my students. We began the quarter by looking into our common practices and beliefs. We began to look at a general overview of several types of research based instructional practices such as; cooperative learning, feedback, advance organizers, questioning, self-reflection, reciprocal teaching, and non-linguistic representation. After reviewing several of these instructional practices and looking at the key components that make them successful, I realized I had a lot to learn and a lot to explore in my classroom. For the remainder of the quarter, I got to explore these research-based instructional practices in depth and try implementing a few into my own practice. I chose to do further research on cooperative learning, advance organizers, role play, and non-linguistic representations.

During my further research in role play I found an article on how dramatic play/role play can enhance student learning. One piece of information that I found very useful was they gave the reader the list of things they need to have thought of, prepared, or aware of during role play in order to be successful in enhancing student learning. Cecchini referred to it as, “setting the stage” to have the right skill set. Incorporating role playing and having children mimic behaviors, actions and verbal expressions of someone helps retention and comprehension of taught material. In this article it discusses the importance of paying attention to the use of materials, making sure you have the correct length of time for the activity, keeping an eye on their social skills/interactions with their peers and their communication levels. All of these pieces are important things to consider when having your students’ role play in your classroom. I wrote a lesson plan to test out these ideas with my students. Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by engagement levels and how much fun they had. I will definitely do another lesson like this! I loved this website, and will refer back to it when I plan another lesson with role play in the future!

I also spent time researching non-linguistic representations. I found a website that covers the book Enhancing Writing with Visualizing by Linda ZeiglerJerry L Johns and Virginia R Beesley. This book is one I might order to read and keep in my professional library. It is a “how to” book to help teach students the strategy of visualization and the important role it plays in literacy. A quote from the webpage that I really enjoyed was “By integrating visualization into the writing process, students think as they create. And since an image looks the same in any language–this research-based strategy benefits every learner!” Learning how to tap into your visualization skills not only benefits the engagement levels, but the retention levels too. It can aid any lesson in any subject area. This book I found focuses on how it helps in literacy. In the book, each lesson is prefaced with information to help teachers choose lessons that match the needs of their students. The indicators are labeled with writing traits to help teachers comprehend how each lesson incorporates multiple elements of writing. I gave this a try in a writing lesson plan I wrote. Students had an opportunity to put their senses to the test. I loved to see how this research-based instructional practice was highly effective with my students. They all took the lesson very seriously and their ability to write with “wow words” seemed effortless.

I learned a lot about myself as a teacher and my students during this quarter when I explored, wrote lessons and taught several of these research-based instructional practices. However, I feel that one of my biggest takeaways during this course was my learning on giving feedback to students. In chapter 7 of Visible Learning for Teachers, John Hattie talks a lot about feedback and how “feedback aims to reduce the gap between where the student ‘is’ and where he or she is ‘meant to be’ (Hattie, 129).” As a teacher it is imperative for you to know where your students are and where they are supposed to be. He discussed how the more transparent you make it for students, the easier it is for them to help in getting themselves to that place. This really piggybacks to the importance of your students knowing the learning targets and objectives each day. I found that this chapter really connects the importance to why having your students be able to share the objective and why it is important for them to know the goal of the lesson to the power of feedback with your students. Hattie describes the best form of feedback is just above the level at which the student is working. With that requires a lot of work for a teacher to make intentional and meaningful comments that aren’t just “way to go” or “wow, good job”. Knowing your students currently level and the end result is critical. A quote that really stuck with me from the readings this week was when Hattie states, “Almost half of teachers’ feedback was praise, and that premature and gratuitous praise confused students and discouraged revisions. Most often, teachers use praise to mitigate critical comments, which indeed diluted the positive effect of such comments (Hattie, 136).” This was a new way of looking at feedback for me. I definitely feel that I am guilty of premature praise which in return in fact has discouraged revisions with my students. I am truly interested in working on my praise and the timing and intent of that praise so it doesn’t discourage my students for revisions within their work. One of my biggest takeaways from Hattie this week was “Errors invite opportunities” I love that statement. “What we now know and what we could know; they are signs of opportunities to learn (Hattie, 139).”

Another big take away was around note taking. In chapter 6 of Classroom Instruction that Works it states, “Evidence from the 2010 study also suggests that note-taking strategies are not intuitive; this means that students benefit from explicit instruction in note-taking strategies, particularly those that are guided and more structured (Dean, Hubbell, Pitler and Stone, 79).” Changing to Common Core this year has brought along several changes. One change that classroom teachers have taken on is structured and purposeful note-taking. This is a skill that is now being taught as early as kindergarten and also graded during our Performance Assessments throughout the year. I feel that it is important and very critical for students to be taught how to be effective note takers. I was very taken back when I first read that kindergarteners would be required to take notes from an informational text and then use the notes as a reference during an assessment. Reading that in September as a kindergarten teacher, I just about fell out of my chair. I felt that was asking way too much of my little five year olds, half of those kinders not even able to write words independently at that time of the year. However the teaching to note-taking in kinder is very intentional and guided. It is a process that is done together and allows students to see the framework of successful note-taking. They build from that in September to hopefully the beginning stages of independent note-taking by the end of the year. I felt it was really neat to watch (most of) my students this year develop such a complex skill at such a young age!

Over the course of the quarter, I participated in a final collaborative inquiry with a teammate that I collaborate with frequently. We focused our research on using transition words to help stories flow better, as well as adding a concluding sentence in narrative writing to conclude their story. Our inquiry question was: How can we implement advance organizers to support students in their narrative writing? You can look at the layout and framework of this action research project here. In the Collaborative Instructional Strategies Inquiry project you can see my analysis of this action research project and how effective it was in the presentation.

As I mentioned throughout this reflection, I look forward to continue using the research-based instructional strategies that I learned about. To further challenge myself, I plan to try using additional research-based instructional practices that I am not as familiar or comfortable with. Teaching such a young grade, some of the concepts that go into these lessons can be intimidating.  In the research throughout this quarter I did find several examples of how to scale lessons down which is encouraging and helpful to get my feet wet! I recently began working with professional learning coaches with my grade level team to try find new ways to add research-based instructional practices into a math workshop. I look forward to continuing this work with my teammates and the learning coaches as well as looking into additional professional development to implement into my classroom!

Citations:

Cecchini, M. E. (2008, January 1). Earlychildhood NEWS – Article Reading Center. Earlychildhood NEWS – Article Reading Center. Retrieved May 16, 2014, from http://www.earlychildhoodnews.com/earlychildhood/article_view.aspx?ArticleID=751

Dean, C, E.R. Hubbell, H Pitler, and B Stone. Classroom Instruction that Works. 2nd Edition. Alexandria, VA: ASCD, 2012. Print.

Hattie, John. Visible Learning for Teachers Maximizing Impact on Learning. Routledge: London and New York, 2012. Print.

Success for all foundation®: Cooperative Learning- Elementary. (2012, January 1). Success For All. Retrieved May 2, 2014, from http://www.successforall.org/Elementary/Powerful-Instruction/Our-Instructional-Design/Cooperative-Learning/

Using BrainPOP as an Advance Organizer. (2009, December 20). BrainPOP Educators Using BrainPOP as an Advance Organizer Comments. Retrieved May 2, 2014, from http://www.brainpop.com/educators/community/2009/12/20/using-brainpop-as-an-advance-organizer/

Zeigler, L. L., & Johns, J. L. (2007). Enhancing writing through visualization. Dubuque, Iowa: Kendall Hunt Pub. Co..

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EDTC 6433: Final Reflection

I am happy to say that I am leaving this class feeling like I have learned a lot and also feeling like technology is not nearly as intimidating as I made it out to be. Walking into this class in the beginning of the quarter I have to admit that I was nervous, and intimidated. Yes, I feel that I am pretty tech savvy with the items that I use outside of my classroom, but when it came time to implement technology into my classroom, I didn’t know where to start. During the first class session we spoke about our final projects we would create and we touched on the types of work we would do in this tech class. We also took a NETS self-assessment to see what areas we could use improvement.  After leaving class the first day I have to a say that I was pretty skeptical. Reading over the NETS and taking that self-assessment truly felt like I was trying to (and not succeeding) read a different language. The self-assessment showed me that I truly had a lot of room for growth in all areas. I teach kindergarten, I have 22 five year olds who are just learning the letters of the alphabet and learning how to read and write. My original outlook was, what in the world could I possibly take from this class and make applicable in my room? “These projects and NETS don’t really apply to me”. I am proud to say, that I was so very wrong! Whether I am teaching 5 year olds or 75 year olds, teaching technology is possible and very doable at any age! My overall technology goal was to focus on NETS-S 2: Communication and Collaboration and NETS-T 1: Facilitate and Inspire Student Learning and Creativity. I would improve technology integration in my classroom by using Haiku as a space to allow my students to share their animal research projects in June. Students would use our classroom Haiku page to demonstrate their research and use of PebbleGo and a voice recording system to create their project. Although this project won’t be completed until May/June of 2014, I feel I was effective in setting my students up for success on this project. I have spent a lot of time teaching my students about the basics of using netbooks. I have worked hard teaching my students how to log on, how to navigate to their sites, how to adjust volume, use headphones and how to log off. I have also done a lot of preloading with my students on how to research using graphic organizers and using the basics of PebbleGo. I have learned so much about how to introduce somewhat complicated technology skills so early in the year with kindergarteners. My biggest learning and takeaway from this class is twofold. One is how many technology tools and resources can be modified and used with my kindergarteners in class. The second biggest takeaway is the capability of my kindergarteners using technology, especially so early in the year. With enough practice and careful teaching my students were able to meet extremely high expectations that I set!

During this class, I learned about several different programs that have been extremely useful and helpful in my classroom! A part of this course that I greatly enjoyed was the fact that majority of the programs we got to learn about and use in class are all able to be scaled down to use at different grade levels.  I also feel that I am leaving with wonderful resources and tools for my future years of teaching. Not only did I find new programs and technologies that I am able to use with my students, I learned about new technologies that will benefit me in my journey with SPU for my graduate degree! I already used one 2 of the programs I have learned about in my projects and presentations for finals this quarter! I look forward to seeing how I can continue to use these programs with my class this year and in the future as well!

Something I always need to remember is how important technology is and how it allows for creativity in my classroom. Student choice is so important. It allows for students to be more engaged and take ownership in their learning, and technology really aids student choice. Technology has really opened the door and alleviated stress for the kiddos in my room who struggle with fine motor and writing skills. It has allow for my students who rarely participate in conversation and give me a large sigh when it is time to get work done,  to be excited to pull out the netbooks or recording system to get started on their work! Technology is supporting students with many different avenues to access information and support learning! I will definitely be continuing the use of technology in my classroom!

EDU 6655 Is Theater the Answer?

While reading chapter 14 of Brain Matters, Wolfe does a wonderful job recapping the main takeaways from her book. While reading over the importance of using appropriate rehearsal strategies and providing many opportunities for students to revisit information over time on page 222, I was able to connect a phenomenal new resource I received during our staff LEAP time.

Our staff was lucky enough to have a training session from BTiC: Bringing Theater into the Classroom. It is a program that teaches you ways to integrate drama into your entire curriculum. They give activities, and ice breakers to help start your year off. With those activities, comes a set up for grouping our students that you are able to pull from for the rest of the year. Looking back into chapter 11, Wolfe states, “We learn some things by experiencing them concretely, others symbolically, and still others in abstract terms (Wolfe 166).” What I loved about BTiC is this program provides methods of learning that research has proved to be most effective. During this mini workshop, we learned a lot about tableaus and how effective they can be in all subject areas and used for many purposes. This immediately excited me and got me eager to apply my new learning into my classroom. I already had an idea of where and exactly how I wanted to test out using tableaus.

In my classroom during reading workshop, the curriculum is focusing hard on oral retelling of the highlighted story from the curriculum. We are provided with a hardcopy version of this story, the story is available online, and we are given blank picture cards for students to “fill in the blank” of the story. However, no matter how many times we listen to the story (me reading the book, played online or using the blank cards) my students are still having a difficult time with going back and recreating the story in the correct order. I went back into my classroom after the workshop and immediately introduced tableaus to my students. Rather than having my whole class attempt to retell the entire story together, I divided the story out into 4 sections and grouped my students into 4 groups. Each group was given a section of the story and they had to work together to create a tableau to show the most important piece of their section of the story. Each group then watched the others mini productions! We had a quick discussion about each tableau and why they chose the stances, and gestures they chose. After this activity, we sat back down and debriefed the whole lesson. The next day I came back and revisited this same story and asked them to retell the story. The outcome was phenomenal. Every single student was able to correctly retell the story in the correct order and they were actually able to pull even more information from the story after that activity than they were able to before.

All of the reading and research from Jossey, Wolfe and the fabulous online readings that we have been able to discover have really come to life in my classroom with how students learn best. I can’t wait to continue using tableaus and theater in my classroom!

Bringing theater into the classroom. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.seattlerep.org/Programs/Education/BTIC/Default

Wolfe, P. (2010). Brain Matters. (2nd ed., pp.221-223). Arlington, VA: ASCD.

Mnemonics Saved the Day

Growing up, I always had a difficult time studying for tests. There was always so much information that I needed to retain but I struggled keeping the information organized and straight in my mind. I always seemed to struggle until the day I started using mnemonics. In chapter 13 of Brain Matters Wolfe states, “many teachers view mnemonics as mere memorization or ‘memory tricks’ (Wolfe 208).” They say that mnemonics are unrespectable because they don’t enhance deep and meaningful understanding. As an educator, I could not disagree more. I was able to be successful in elementary school, middle school, high school and college because of the help from mnemonics. It is a great tool to  aid memory and the ability to recite information.

Wolf spends a great deal of time reciting many of the categories of mnemonics. Two categories that I was able to connect with the most is acrostic sentences, as well as acronyms. The two are very similar to one another. The difference is acrostic sentences are always sayings in a sentence form whereas acronyms are using just a single word.  Many of us have probably learned several of these as young children and still to this day are able to recite these silly sentences or words. Examples are how many days are in each month “30 days has September, April, June and November..” ,  learning the notes of the line on the treble clef by learning the sentence “Every good boy does fine” . A popular acronym that I still use to this day to help me remember how to properly use the words affect vs. effect is RAVEN.  “Remember affect (is a) verb, effect (is a) noun (Wolfe 210).”

“When two vowels go walking, the first one does the talking (Wolfe 211).” Using what seems to be just a silly sentence during reading workshop to help students remember a very important rule while reading, truly works. In chapter 15 of Jossey Bass Reader, it talks about the differences between literate and illiterate students. One intriguing difference was when they looked into reciting nonsense words. “The illiterate people tended to turn these into real words (Blakemore 240).” Teaching kindergarten, I still have several students who are not reading yet. Illiterate students, struggle retaining the information and research shows that they are actually using a different part of their brains when attempting to read words. They use the part of the brain responsible for problem solving.

After looking deeper into this new learning, I am curious to see how helpful it could be using mnemonics more frequently with my illiterate students. I look forward to learning more creative ways to distribute information for my illiterate students to recall it better/faster, as well as strengthen my literate student’s skills. Could this change, decrease or eliminate (in some areas) the problem with students using the wrong part of their brain while trying to read? Even if it couldn’t solve the problem, I am curious to see the growth with those illiterate students in using mnemonics. As teachers we can teach students about how their memories work and give them the tools they need in order to recall and pull from that stored information.

Wolfe, P. (2010). Brain Matters. (2nd ed., pp.200-217). Arlington, VA: ASCD.

Blakemore, S. J., Frith, U. (2007). The JOSSEY-BASS READER on the Brain and Learning (p. 101). San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

EDU 6655 What Would I Change?

There are many things that we as educators would change about our schools if we had the money and/or power to.  Ask a teacher to close their eyes and pretend that money and power were not an issue. For them to write down ideas of what a perfect school would look like and see what you get. Every teacher has their dream of what that would look like, and it would be pages upon pages of changes, some more feasible than others.  There is, however one major change that I would like to see implemented in schools all over the country. I would like to see more exercise built into our students’ school day.

“Research from Harvard University has shown that exercise plays a critical role in brain functioning (Wolfe-Early Brain Development 6).” Many researchers have concluded that exercise is an important part of a child’s day. In chapter 7 of Brain Matters, Wolfe discusses how school districts are decreasing the time spent in subjects like art, music and physical education to spend more time on core subjects such as math, reading and writing in hopes to raise students standardized test scores. However, after looking into research concerning the effects of exercise on brain function it suggests that this practice may be counterproductive to the results they are looking for (Wolfe 93). Wolfe goes on later in the chapter explaining a study that was done proved that the more physical tests students passed, the higher they scored on the achievement test. Exercise not only enhances learning, it affects emotional and physical well-being as well because when you exercise your body produces endorphins (Scheve).”

I was pleased to read in John Medina’s Brain Rules that “kids pay better attention to their subjects when they’ve been active. Kids are also less likely to be disruptive in terms of their classroom behavior when they’re active (Medina 2008)”. Not only are they less disruptive but they “feel better about themselves, have higher self-esteem, less depression, less anxiety. All of those things can impair academic performance and attentiveness (Medina 2008)”. Science and my readings have proved that exercise is a vital part of education and learning. Taking the time each day in my class to do our Get Fit- Count to 100s song, stretching, doing breathing exercises, and having them do children’s yoga are all benefiting the learning of my students. It has been a great way to get the blood flow and oxygen to their brain to help get them ready to learn. I have really noticed a difference in their level of engagement after such activities. In my perfect world, districts would stop eliminating our student’s time in important activities that help the success rate of our students. I would also have blocks of time set for exercise in the classrooms totally to about an hour of fun movements and exercises. There could even be a before school program where students could come and do Pilates, yoga, zumba, jogging or any other type of exercise to get their brains awake and ready to learn before the day begins! This would not only aid learning and engagement, but it would also help solve our national obesity issue that our country is undergoing.

Resources:

Medina, J. (2008). Exercise. Brain rules: 12 principles for surviving and thriving at work, home, and school (pp. 14-18). Seattle, WA: Pear Press.

Scheve, T. (n.d.). Is there a link between exercise and happiness?. Retrieved from http://science.howstuffworks.com/life/exercise-happiness2.htm

Wolfe, P. (2010). Brain Matters. (2nd ed., pp.93-97). Arlington, VA: ASCD.

Wolfe, P. (2013). Early Brain Development. A position paper for the 9th Bridge Early Childhood Program in Las Vegas.

EDU 6655 Real-Life Problem Solving

In chapter 11 of Brain Matters it states, “John Dewey contended that school should be less about preparation for life and more like life itself (1937) (Wolfe, 169).” This quote from Dewey really makes me look at how I teach my classroom in a different way. I have always felt that preparing students for life is the most important part about my job. In the past I have focused on helping my students learn about how to become a better friend, citizen and overall person using problem solving strategies. These lessons have been taught in different scenarios and I have even had my students act out and role play problems and solutions.

Wolfe states, “teachers can find actual problems in their own schools and communities for students to solve (Wolfe, 170)”. I really want to find a way to incorporate a smaller scale of this idea for my kinders. We are currently doing informative writing and later in the year my students will be learning how to use research data bases to find information to support their writing. Finding a way to get student into the action of solving a problem to allow for some real hands on experience would improve their learning and retention. Wolfe mentions, “Many of our strongest neural networks are formed by actual experience (Wolfe 169).”  We have spent a lot of time in classes discussing how quickly and how high the percentage of information that is taught, is lost after the students walk out the door. Giving students the hands on learning, where they are able to put their problem solving strategies to use over a week or two time frame, would support their ability to recall and therefore remember materials. Solving a real-life problem would fully support those skills. Dewey mentioned how most schools have students developing critical-thinking and problem-solving skills but they are almost always hypothetical case studies. They are not addressed in the classroom. They are typically taught by lecture and recitation of the information given during instruction. Wolfe mentions that by having students solve a real problem within their community or school, “students learn both content and critical thinking (Wolfe 170).”

A lot of discussion was swirling this week about how important visuals are in our teaching. Less is more. Lessons and information that are jam packed with words quickly become ineffective for our students. Wolfe supports this discussion in chapter 12, when she states, “Not only are visuals powerful retention aids, but they also serve to increase understanding,” (Wolfe, 184). It is important to really tie these two topics of discussion together. While solving those real-life problems in the classroom,  it is important to be showing students how to access databases and how to use visuals to support their learning and presenting. It is just as important for students to understand the importance of visuals as teachers. When we were students growing up giving presentations about different topics from kindergarten all the way through college, no one ever told me how less is more, how important visuals were for retaining and recalling information. Medina states, “the more visual the input becomes, the more likely it is to be recognized-and recalled (Medina, 233).” As students we were pushed to give as much information as possible and that typically resulted to PowerPoint slides in 8 pt font so we could fit everything on! As current educators, it is our responsibility to not only use this in our own practice, but also to teach our students about the importance of these topics too so they can apply it into their daily work.

Resources:

Medina, J. (2008). Brain Rules: 10 Vision (1st ed., pp. 233). Seattle, WA: Pear Press.

Wolfe, P. (2010). Brain Matters. (2nd ed., pp.169-184). Arlington, VA: ASCD.