TL Standard 7

TL Standard 7

Having only 5 years of teaching under my belt, I still classify myself as somewhat of a new teacher. The word leadership holds a lot of meaning and can honestly be quite intimidating. I got my first taste of a leadership role when I was only in my second year of teaching. I was asked to be the core leader for my grade level team in a school wide project called CEL: Center for Educational Leadership. This program was brought into our school to help restructure and rewrite units of study for our writing curriculum at each grade level. I spent the whole year working with 8 core member in our school, alongside my principal and our CEL Leader from University of Washington that helped lead this process. We spent the year designing, writing and scripting units and individualized lesson plans for an entire year. It was our job as core members to go back and train our grade level team this process and debrief our learnings. Our grade level team members would do learning walks and observe lessons we would teach. This was a great leadership learning experience for me. It taught me several critical skills needed in order to be successful at leading a team. This past year I had another opportunity to practice my leadership skills. This time however, I was asked by my principal to be our building leader for the new teacher evaluation system, known as the Professional Growth and Evaluation (PGE) system. It required several trainings and to quickly become familiar with the Danielson Framework that our district uses for evaluations. As the PGE building leader it required me to attend district trainings, professional development classes as well as reporting back to my building and training the staff on the new system during LEAP days and staff meetings. This really allowed me to hone in on my strengths as well as where I had room for improvement in regards to leadership skills.

In EDAD 6580: Leadership in Education course really allowed me the opportunities to look even deeper into these areas of not only building leadership skills but also my strengths and weaknesses in my own classroom practices as well. During this course I completed a Professional Growth Plan, which required me to analyze the Association of Washington Principal Standards (WPS) as well as complete and analyze my results from six self-inventory assessments during the course which allowed me to look at current practice, and help me plan on how to better these practices as a teacher leader and possibly a future administrator. These assessments were, The Managerial Grid, Leadership Survey, The Ross-Barger Philosophy Index, X-Y Questionnaire, Jung Typology Test, and Thomas-Kilman Conflict Mode Instrument. During this same course, I also completed a Visionary Leadership Analysis- VLA. The VLA required you to really delve into the dynamics of your school. These skills are important to have as a building administrator or any leadership role within your building. Completing the VLA helped me understand who makes up my school and it helps answer the why for a lot of questions that might come up in a school year.

WSP Standard One: Visionary Leadership

In order to advance a school’s achievement or program, a school must have a shared vision for learning. This vision is essential to help keep a school and its stakeholders on the same page regarding high standards of academic achievement and working towards the same goal [Disposition #17]. WSPs Standard One states, “a school or program administration is an educational leader who has the knowledge, skills, and cultural competence to improve learning and achievement to ensure the success of each student by leading the development, articulation, implementation, and stewardship of a vision of learning that is shared and supported by school/program and community stakeholders.” It is not only critical to collaboratively create a vision, share it and have it be known to the members within the school as well as the community, it is also just as important to put this vision into operation. Implementing a shared vision allows for continuous school improvement [Disposition # 18]. As a school leader, you are required to have done your research and have analyzed how different systems within your school would be affected by this shared vision. The leaders within the building need to know how the school vision serve the students, staff and community alike which ensures the educability of all students [Disposition #16].

According to Humanmetrics Jung’s Typology test, I am ESFJ (Extravert, Sensing, Feeling, Judging). As a future leader within a building, these skills would be put to use in helping lead my staff to collaboratively rework or create a shared vision for the building. The above personality traits would cater to all staff needs in making sure that everyone was heard and all needs were met. This helps staff ensure students’ success [Disposition #20] within our school walls.

A piece that I feel I could work on is to continuously examine my own assumptions, beliefs and practices [Disposition #21]. Continuously being the key word. I feel that looking at and reviewing such concepts at the beginning of every year (or maybe even more frequently) is very important. Different events or circumstances can occur during a year to change or slightly alter your views or beliefs. It is so easy to get stuck in your set ways and beliefs to a point where you couldn’t necessarily even explain the reason why you do what you do. There are times where I have fell into this broken record routine. With an ever so quickly changing education system, it is critical to stay on top of your thoughts, beliefs and practices. One way I can improve these skills as a future leader is to schedule during staff meetings to my staff members revisit, analyze and evaluate their beliefs and practices and note any modifications or adjustments they feel need to happen. Finding a few professional development books to implement an optional book study that provide teachers with strategies could be beneficial too.

WSP Standard Two: Instructional Improvement

Promoting student learning within a school takes many forms. It requires teachers and staff understanding diverse cultures and customs of their students. It also requires you to be knowledgeable of the needs of your students and being able to advocate and provide a nurturing culture. In the times of need, it also may entail implementing an improvement plan that allows for continuous learning. This continuous learning is for not only students but teachers as well. Working with your grade level team to align curriculum, being knowledgeable on your teacher evaluation system and taking the necessary steps to be prepared and perform well. It also includes exposing yourself to types of professional development to strengthen teaching practices.

As a teacher leader, it is critical to understand that members of the staff have a different management preferences. This preference in leadership could dictate their success as a collaborative team member. I feel the best way to positively impact a school’s environment starts with understanding the range of management styles. According to McGregor who developed The ‘X-Y Theory’ my self-assessment revealed that fall in Theory Y management style. The results state Theory Y management styles enjoy work and accept responsibility. It also states Theory Y management styles are ambitious and enjoy being creative.  My results also showed that I strongly prefer the Y Theory Management style. I resonated with my results because I feel that a strength I have is instilling trust in my teammates and our collaboration. I feel that I do a great job at providing a nurturing culture for my students and also a safe environment for my teammates to feel comfortable with coming to me with any concerns as well.  The Managerial Grid self-assessment showed that I have a high concern for both people and production. I value and utilize feedback and criticism and learn from experiences. “Mutual trust and respect where people are not afraid to take risks which allows me to test the limits of creativity” is vital for me.

I feel I have room to improve with this standard by learning how these management styles directly connect with the different learners in my classroom. Being culturally responsive and modifying teaching styles based upon the needs and culture of my students is important. I would be interested in providing my students with a similar type of Theory X and Theory Y test with my students to better understand how they prefer to be taught. I feel that furthering this research which ultimately improve student achievement in my classroom. Flexibility is one of the most important qualities a teacher and leader can possess. This is something that I feel I do well with regarding scheduling and reading my students during a lesson. However, I feel that I could improve me flexibility with students who need a different style of teaching or management. Not every size fits all.

WSP Standard Three: Effective Management

Standard three in the Washington Principals Standards revolves around effective management. It is comprised of four strands that focuses on (a) using continuous cycles of analysis to ensure efficient and effective systems- this strand looks are the effectiveness of school programs, systems and issues. Using data collection to outline options for actions taken. (b) Ensuring efficient and effective management of the organization. This strand looks at how theories are created and used to support structures that promote school safety, behavior management and other onsite issues. (c) Ensuring efficient and effective management of the operations, which looks at effective building-wide operations that involves awareness of legal and ethical issues, problem solving and decision making models. (d) Ensuring management of the resources for a safe, efficient, and effective learning environment. This strand looks at demonstrating that a teacher can manage and maintain a safe and orderly learning environment.

My ability to use feedback and analyze the good and bad in a classroom or system as shown in the Blake and Moutan Managerial Grid questionnaire, is a big component to applying and demonstrating this standard in my classroom. I continuously collaborate with my peers about the systems within the school to determine if they are best meeting the needs of our students. My ability to trust my coworkers and grade level teammates allows me to ensure the best procedures are put into place to promote school safety. As a future leader, it is also important to possess high expectations of your staff. Shown in my results from the Managerial Grid it states that I take a paternalistic approach with others around me but I still maintain a high standard of performance. I do a good job at maintaining a safe and orderly learning environment in my classroom. Much of the beginning of the school year is spent with my students getting to know each other and learning how to be respectful of not only each other but each other’s thoughts too. They need to feel safe to take risks in the classroom and know they will not be judged [Dispositions # 27].

However, a weakness that I know I possess is directly connected to the Jung Personality trait assessment. As an ESFJ, feelings and emotions are often brought into play. I have a hard time standing ground in regards to my point of view with fellow colleagues that may have a sense of seniority. I often would rather everyone be heard and keep the peace than be demanding at times. There are a few professional books I would be interested in reading up on regarding this issue. Another component I would like to pay more attention to with this standard is analyzing the system, as educators we are often handed materials and curriculum to teach. Often times, we find that the curriculum or program that was given in fact is not what best meets students’ needs. I would like to continue working with my grade level team and have the conversations that at times, could be difficult in looking at and working through these issues. Adapting or modifying processes that might not be working for our students will ultimately enhance student achievement [Disposition #20].

WSP Standard Four: Inclusive Practice

This standard is based around collaborating with families and community members. It looks at inclusive practice that responds to a diverse community and their interests and needs. It requires understanding the challenges of family partnerships and being able to break barriers to help overcome challenges and lead to success and academic performance.

Each school year, working so closely with all of your families you are bound to run into conflict at one point or another. In the Conflict Style Questionnaire, my highest score was in compromising (sharing-Fox) and in second was, collaborating (problem solving-Owl). I feel I excel in situations where I need to sit down with families and discuss issues, concerns or conflict. I value other’s opinions and often appreciate the feedback from not only parents but grade level teammates and my principal as well.

One area of improvement in this standard is my ability to mobilize community resources. I feel that overall I need to find ways to better incorporate and implement resources like technology in my classroom for student use. I would like to find ways to bring in the surrounding community members to share resources. This could be in a professional development class that is offered or even a technology class that could be offered by the district. Our school district is very technology driven. I all too often feel that because I teach kindergarten that my options are limited. I know however that by digging a little deeper there are always ways to modify unique ways to use technology in the classroom with my students [Dispositions # 19, 21].

WSP Standard Five: Ethical Leadership

Standard five covers teachers and administration acting with integrity, fairness, and making ethical decisions. As a teacher and future leader, it is important to have an understanding of and to also demonstrate these qualities not only professionally but personally as well. It is critical to understand the expectations to withhold the frameworks of being a leader. This includes legal and ethical aspects. Treating people equally is mandatory at every level of leadership. Teachers and future leaders need to understand each of the standards and the expectations they are being held to. Principals and teacher leaders must lead their staff to success my modeling self-analysis and reflection. They must model and identify areas where growth is needed and be knowledgeable of how to create and implement a growth plan democratically with their staff.

In the Leadership Survey I scored in Quadrant 2, meaning I value and demonstrate high task and high relationships. I am concise, organized and very productive but I see the value and take time to build relationships with those that I work with. I treat others around me equally and with the upmost respect allowing me to make ethical decisions that are unbiased [Dispositions #23, 24]. I assume responsibilities and take pride in always demonstrating putting forth my best efforts. I accept consequences for decisions I make as a teacher and also as a future leader. I value using my resources and collaborating with peers to reflect and always find ways to improve my practice and ensure a quality education for all students [Dispositions # 22, 25].

One downfall, however being an ESFJ, I know sometimes I make decisions based off of feelings rather than facts. My strong sense of feeling is directly connected to the Jung Typology assessment. In a leadership position, I will be faced with several difficult situations that I will not be allowed to let my feelings on the subject overrule an ethical decision that should be made. This is a skill that I will need to work on before taking on a major leadership role. I am able to start working on this skill in my classroom with the students and parents in my classroom that I currently have. Speaking with my current administrator to get insight on how she many handle particular situations I feel would also be a very beneficial. This would help me learn how to constructively and productively influence the service of all students and their families [Disposition #26].

WSP Standard Six: Socio-Political Context

In order to be an effective teacher leader or administrator, you need to understand how the educational system works and know how to respond to several different context surrounding the system. Leaders need to be able to professional discuss and influence legal, cultural, political and social context within their building and in their school district. Leaders must know how to advocate for the students within in their buildings and their staff members too.

I am very hands-on and feel that students learn best by doing, trial and error, which according to the Ross Barger Philosophy Survey classifies me as Pragmatism/Progressivism. I also feel that schools should be truthful and non-manipulative which classifies me as following the Existentialism philosophy as well. Encouraging exploration and projects that are inquiry based allows students to learn how to problem solve and ask critical questions. I feel that I do a really good job at advocating for my students in my classroom to allow a more age appropriate style for learning. Our district mandates several pencil and paper tests. Often, the curriculum given does not demonstrate what good teaching practice looks like. I feel a strength I have is understanding the cultural and social contexts and several required pieces that the district pushes and I find a more appropriate and engaging method for my students to represent their knowledge on the topic.

I feel my area of weakness lies in the politic aspects of the education system. I have only received courses on school laws in my undergrad degree. This course was brief and didn’t go very in-depth in many components. The areas I feel that would be the most critical to learn first would be laws in regards to students on IEPs and laws surrounding students in special education. More often than not, issues from parents in a building are often set around these types of issues. I feel that these laws also directly connect to ensuring educability of all students [Disposition #16]. I have a book in my professional library from my undergrad covering school laws that I could read to brush up on my knowledge of the political contexts.

Overall these assignments have really opened my eyes to several strengths as a teacher and future leader that I did not know I had. It has also helped expose the areas in which I need more work in developing. Strengthening the skills mentioned above in each standard will help me become a better leader for my future staff and also a better teacher for my current group of students. I would like to use my strengths in the use of collaboration, building trusting relationships and utilizing my resources to help assist me in developing my practice as a better leader. Using the Visionary Leadership Analysis- VLA would be critical as a future administrator to help made big decision within a building. An administrator and any building leadership role requires you to have knowledge and a solid foundation of what the school represents and its mission statement. Mission statements for a school represents not only the students that make up the school but also the staff that works within those walls. I feel the PGP and the VLA assignments have helped prepare me for the future, as I begin to take on more leadership roles and potentially take on an administrator’s position.

Citations:

Alsbury, T. (Professor) (2014, October 23). Mainstream of Organizational Thought, Chapter 3.

EDAD6580. Lecture conducted from Seattle Pacific University, Redmond, WA.

Association of Washington School Principals. (2014, 7 22). AWSP Leadership Framework. Retrieved 11/12, 2014, from https://bbweb-prod.spu.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-998466-dt-content-rid-1925813_1/courses/EDAD6580_10247201451/AWSP%20Framework.pdf

Barger, R. (1999). The Ross Barger Philosophy-Inventory. Retrieved from http://www3.nd.edu/~rbarger/ross-barger

Blake, R. & Mouton, J. Blake-Mouton Managerial Grid. Retrieved from http://www.bumc.bu.edu/facdev-medicine/files/2010/10/Leadership-Matrix-Self-Assessment-Questionnaire.pdf

Home – Rosa Parks Elementary. (n.d.). Retrieved November 10, 2014, from http://www.lwsd.org/school/rosaparks/Pages/default.aspx

Jung, C. Humanmetrics Jung Typology Test. Retrieved from http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/jtypes2.asp

Kilmann, J. & Thomas, K. (2010, March 2). Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument. Retreived from https://www.skillsone.com/Pdfs/smp248248.pdf

Owens, R. G., & Valesky, T. C. (2007). Organizational behavior in education: Adaptive Leadership and school reform (9th ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

Washington State Report Card. (n.d.). Retrieved November 10, 2014, from http://reportcard.ospi.k12.wa.us/summary.aspx?groupLevel=District&schoolId=5324&reportLevel=School&orgLinkId=5324&yrs=&year=2006-07

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!

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.