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 Zeigler, Jerry 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!
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..