EDU 6120 – Final Foundations Paper

EDU 6120, American Education Past and Present, illuminated the path of American education. This course’s readings focused on philosophies, relationships, and developmental issues that have influenced American education throughout its time. As part of the final assignment for this course, we were asked to answer two questions analyzing information presented in a variety of weekly readings. Personally, I analyzed the three ways in which learners obtain new knowledge, received, discovered, and constructed; and the implications of finding an appropriate balance between each of the three approaches. In addition, I addressed two specific philosophies which significantly influenced my personal philosophy of education, Whitehead’s (1916) “The Aim of Education,” and Comenius’ (1633-38), The Great Didactic. As evidence of each of these analyses, I have attached my Final Foundations Paper.

L.Bayley.EDU 6120 Final Paper

Advertisements

EDU 6526 – Video Analysis #2

Video Analysis 2 – 10th Grade Close Reading Lesson

In this lesson, the first instructional strategy the teacher used was collaboration. Throughout the entire lesson, the teacher had students working together to breakdown a section of text. Rather than asking each student to independently read the text and make annotations on their own, the teacher had students reading aloud and sharing their thoughts as a group. “Using cooperative learning helps teachers lay the foundation for student success in a world that depends on collaboration and cooperation.” (Dean et al., 2012). This lesson not only supported student understanding of the importance of close reading, but increased students’ abilities to cooperate, acknowledge, accept, and build on the ideas of others. In this area, I thought the teacher did a wonderful job of effectively implementing this instructional technique.

Another instructional strategy that was evident throughout this lesson was questioning. “Using higher-order questions helps students deepen their knowledge by requiring the use of critical thinking skills.” (Pitler & Stone, 2012). In the very beginning of this lesson, the teacher reminds students of the essential question they are working to answer as they closely read the passage – What is worse, failing or never trying? As students work through the given text, and toward an answer to the essential question, the teacher poses additional questions to further their understanding of the passage – What is the main idea? What does the author mean when…? These questions promote critical thinking, as Pitler and Stone (2012) mention, as they require students to analyze the text and make inferences about the author’s true meaning. In addition, as students are cooperating with their peers the teachers walks around asking higher-order questions to individual students – What role do those questions have? Why is the author asking them? What kinds of thinking does the author use? These questions push students beyond the surface of the text  and require them to analyze the deeper meaning of the author’s words. This is another area in which this teacher did a great job of deepening student learning through the use of an effective instructional strategy.

Finally, note taking was another instructional strategy used throughout this lesson. As students read through the text they were given they are asked to underline important words, highlight portions of the text that were unclear, and explicitly write questions or revelations they had. A list of these strategies was displayed on the board, and served as a reminder for students of the note taking process. “Note taking helps students deepen their understanding of information because it involves higher-order thinking skills.” (Dean et al., 2012). Throughout this lesson, the teacher asked students to take notes on certain aspects of the provided passage but never explicitly told students which portions were more important than others. In doing this, the teacher required her students to think critically about the text and identify important components on their own, increasing their understanding of the text and developing their higher-order thinking skills. However, as Dean et al. (2012) state, most students do not understand how to effectively take notes unless they are explicitly taught. The teacher in this lesson did not model the note-taking process prior to asking students to annotate the given passage, which may have been confusing for some. That being said, note taking may have been covered in a previous lesson; in that case, would have been unnecessary to reintroduce or model in this one.

Overall, I really enjoyed this close reading lesson. I work on close reading with my first graders, focusing on using text evidence to support ideas they have about a particular text; it was nice to see this skill applied in a 10th grade classroom. I now have a better understanding of what close reading looks like at the high school level and feel better prepared to support my students in this particular content area.

References:

Dean, C. B., Hubbell, E. R., Pitler, H., & Stone, B. (2012). Classroom instruction that works (2nd edition). Alexandria, VA: ACSD.

Pitler, H., & Stone, B. (2012). A handbook for classroom instruction that works (2nd edition). Alexandria, VA: ACSD.

EDU 6526 – Module 7

Module 7 focused on the instructional strategy, generating and testing hypotheses. Generating and testing hypotheses is often thought of in terms of science or math, but is rarely associated with other content areas. However, as Dean et al. (2012) mention, this instructional strategy can be used to reinforce learning for any subject. Generating and testing hypotheses can be done inductively or deductively, where an inductive approach is used to “figure out things that are not explicit,” and a deductive approach helps students “develop the ability to transfer knowledge and apply general principles” (Pitler & Stone, 2012). Regardless of the specific approach, generating and testing hypotheses enriches student learning by promoting critical thinking skills (Dean et al., 2012).

As I reviewed this instructional strategy, I realized I had very little experience in helping students generate and test hypotheses. While I have provided students with opportunities to generate and test hypotheses in science, through material exploration prior to explicit instruction, I cannot think of other areas in which I have utilized this instructional technique. As I formally assessed my experience on Pitler and Stone’s (2012) Teacher Rubric for generating and testing hypotheses, I quickly realized I had a lot of room for growth in this area.

The first section of Pitler and Stone’s (2012) rubric, engage students in a variety of structured tasks for generating and testing hypotheses, rates teachers on how frequently they engage students in a variety of structured tasks and how often they explicitly model the steps in each task. Given that I have only formally engaged students in one task for generating and testing hypotheses, I assessed myself a 2 on this scale. Next, I assessed how often I have had my students explain their hypotheses, conclusions, and connect each activity to their investigations. For this portion of the rubric, I also assigned myself a 2. While I have asked my students to explain hypotheses they have generated, again, this has only been done occasionally given the limited number of times I have utilized this instructional technique.

To further my experience in this area, I would like to provide more explicit opportunities for my students to generate and test hypotheses in all subjects. To do this, I plan to utilize turn-and-talk opportunities for generating and testing hypotheses. For example, I typically pause read-alouds to ask students to make predictions (generate hypotheses) about what will happen next in a story. I then have students turn-and-talk with their neighbor to discuss their predictions and explain what evidence from the story they used to make their prediction. To enrich this activity, I plan to have students turn-and-talk once more, after the story has been finished, to discuss their conclusions and draw connections between their initial hypotheses and the actual outcome. While this is just one example of how I plan to grow in this area, it is certainly a step in the right direction.

References:

Dean, C. B., Hubbell, E. R., Pitler, H., & Stone, B. (2012). Classroom instruction that works (2nd edition). Alexandria, VA: ACSD.

Pitler, H., & Stone, B. (2012). A handbook for classroom instruction that works (2nd edition). Alexandria, VA: ACSD.

EDU 6526 – Module 6

Prior to this week’s readings, I was unaware of how vastly useful identifying similarities and differences could be in “moving students from existing knowledge to new knowledge, from the concrete to the abstract, and from separate to connected ideas” (Pitler & Stone, 2012). I have always thought of this instructional strategy as something to be used during reading, to compare and contrast story components, but now realize the multitude of ways this tool can be used to further student learning.

Dean et al. (2012) describe similarities and differences in terms of four main categories – comparing, classifying, creating metaphors, and creating analogies. Each category serves as a strategy for teaching students to identify similarities and differences. Pitler and Stone (2012) share, “teachers are most comfortable engaging their students in activities that require comparing and classifying;” I would certainly fall into this category. I have created comparing/contrasting activities for my students in the past, predominately focusing on finding similarities and differences between two (or more) stories. I have also used classifying activities to further student understanding of certain math concepts. However, I have yet to explicitly introduce activities where students can create metaphors or analogies.

As I reflect on my personal experience in this area, using Pitler and Stone’s (2012) teacher rubric for identifying similarities and differences, I can see I have a lot of room for growth. In each of the categories outlined in this rubric, teach students a variety of ways to identify similarities and differences, guide students as they engage in the process of identifying similarities and differences, and provide supporting cues to help students identify similarities and differences, I assessed my current practices as a 2 on the given scale. While I have modeled and scaffolded compare/contrast activities, and used familiar context to introduce the activities, I have only occasionally provided students with a variety of strategies to use when identifying similarities and differences. Similarly, the strategies I have introduced were only occasionally practiced, and did not have explicit steps for students to follow.

Moving forward, I would like to be more intentional about the activities I create to help students identify similarities and differences; specifically, ensuring I cover each of the four categories Dean et al. (2012) outlined, providing students with explicit steps for each strategy, creating opportunities for students to frequently practice each strategy, and offering specific feedback throughout each activity. In an effort to further my experience in this area, I plan to use a Comparison Matrix to reinforce student understanding of comparing and contrasting, simple lists to connect concrete and abstract ideas, and webs for classification (Pitler & Stone, 2012). Now that I have a better understanding of the ways in which this instructional tool can be used, I feel more confident in my ability to introduce this strategy to my students in the coming year.

References:

Dean, C. B., Hubbell, E. R., Pitler, H., & Stone, B. (2012). Classroom instruction that works (2nd edition).Alexandria, VA: ACSD.

Pitler, H., & Stone, B. (2012). A handbook for classroom instruction that works (2nd edition). Alexandria, VA: ACSD.

EDU 6526 – Module 5

Homework

The topic of homework was very interesting this week, as there is not a consensus in regards to the effectiveness of this instructional strategy. According to Dean et al. (2012), “the effects of homework on student achievement are not entirely clear.” As part of this week’s discussion, a number of reasons as to why Dean et al. made this comment came to light. There are a multitude of variables to consider when looking at the effectiveness of homework – parent involvement, homework quality, learning preferences, and monitoring of each assignment (Dean et al., 2012). In addition, the age of the student can play a big role in the effectiveness of homework as well (Pitler & Stone, 2012). Because of the number of variables that can affect homework, it is difficult to ascertain the true effectiveness of this strategy.

That being said, when used appropriately homework has proven to be a wonderful tool for providing content-specific practice for students. As I mentioned in this week’s post, “If teachers hope to make homework a positive experience for students, they need to keep in mind the different variables that affect that experience and work to counteract them.” Meaning, teachers need to consider the amount of parent support their students receive at home, ensure the quality and effectiveness of the homework they send, account for different learning styles among students, and monitor each assignment (Dean et al., 2012). If these variables are considered, and a consistent homework-routine is created, homework can, in my opinion, be an effective tool in education.

In my experience, I have seen examples of effective and ineffective homework strategies. For example, while teaching Kindergarten a year ago I was required to send 10 pages of math and 10 pages of English home with my students each week. While the quantity alone was enough to make me question this school’s policy, the homework packets were rarely tied to content being covered in class and caused considerable frustration for students and parents alike. If assessing this experience on Pitler and Stone’s (2012) Homework Rubric, I would assign myself a 3 in the first section, as I did follow the school’s homework policy, a 2 in the second section, as it was often difficult to communicate the purpose of the homework to parents when I did not understand it myself, a 1 in the third section, as the homework was seldom aligned with learning objectives, and a 3 in the final section because we did provide explicit feedback on each packet. Fortunately, my experience with homework did not end there. The school in which I interned last year had a wonderful homework policy that showed me how effective homework can be if properly created and assigned. In assessing this experience I assigned a 3 in the first section, as our classroom homework policy was directly aligned with the district policy and guidelines, a 4 in the second section, as both students and parents understood the purpose for each assignment and communicated any problems so we could address them as a class, a 4 in the third section, as each assignment was explicitly tied to learning objectives and differentiated for the success of each student, and a 3 in the final section, as we did provide feedback but not as extensively as we could have.

Moving forward, I plan to implement a very similar homework policy in my classroom as I witnessed in my mentor teacher’s room last year. To further my experience, and increase the effectiveness of the homework I assign, I would like to create a written classroom homework policy so students have a concrete understanding of my expectations, and their responsibilities, in regards to homework. I would also like to work on adding more explicit feedback on each assignment, in an effort to increase student understanding and overall achievement. These added details will undoubtedly support an already effective policy and increase overall student achievement in my classroom.

References:

Dean, C. B., Hubbell, E. R., Pitler, H., & Stone, B. (2012). Classroom instruction that works (2nd edition).Alexandria, VA: ACSD.

Pitler, H., & Stone, B. (2012). A handbook for classroom instruction that works (2nd edition). Alexandria, VA: ACSD.

EDU 6526 – Video Analysis #1

Video Analysis 1 – 3rd Grade Adjective Lesson

In this video, a number of the instructional strategies we have covered so far were evident. For example, as soon as the teacher began her instruction she communicated the lesson objective to her students, “Third graders, today in language we are going to be talking more about adjectives.” This objective, though simple, clearly told students what they would be discussing in the day’s lesson, and communicated that the lesson would build on previous learning about adjectives. As Dean et al. (2012) mention, “When teachers identify and communicate clear learning objectives, they send the message that there is a focus for the learning activities to come.” The teacher in this video did a nice job of communicating a simple objective for her students, and, subsequently, set a clear focus for the lesson’s learning activities. While the teacher in this video did communicate a clear objective to her students, a visual representation of that objective, coupled with more student involvement in setting and understanding the objective, would have sent an even stronger message in regards to the focus for the upcoming lesson (Dean et al., 2012).

After the objective was set, the teacher used cues and note taking to spark student interest in the content material. The teacher cued students to uncover the new information they were going to learn about adjectives by introducing the five senses. This was a great instructional strategy as it prompted students to think about a new way to use adjectives when describing a noun. Once students understood how they could use the five senses to make their writing more interesting, they were given a web to begin to apply this new concept. Rather than having students take notes on the web independently, the teacher did a great job of explicitly modeling how to fill out the web – as students shared descriptive words about their Oreo, the teacher recorded each word in the appropriate category and asked students to do the same. Note taking is a wonderful strategy for facilitating learning by “providing opportunities for students to capture, organize, and reflect on important facts, concepts, ideas, and processes they will need to access at a later time,” especially when explicitly modeled as it was in this video (Dean et al., 2012).

Two other instructional strategies frequently used throughout this lesson were feedback and reinforcement. If feedback is corrective and helpful, it is an effective strategy for supporting student learning and helping students master objectives (Pitler & Stone, 2012). While feedback is often thought of in more comprehensive terms, the teacher in this video provided feedback by way of concise verbal remarks or questions. For example, when students began to describe the Oreo, many used generic words like “good” to show how the Oreo may sound or taste. Rather than accept this simple adjective, the teacher responded by saying “Let’s describe how the Oreo will sound, not the sounds we may hear around us.” Similarly, when describing what the Oreo looked like, one student responded by saying, “ball.” The teacher provided quick, verbal feedback to this student by saying, “What more specific shape does it look like?” To which the student enriched her answer by saying, “round.” While this feedback was not exhaustive, it was specific and corrective and assisted the students in meeting the lesson’s objective. Similar to the feedback provided, the teacher also made an effort to quickly recognize student responses that appropriately met the target for the lesson. For example, in response to what the Oreo looked like, one student said “black and white.” The teacher quickly recognized this student by saying, “good, we are using colors.” This simple verbal praise worked to recognize the student who provided a great answer, and reinforce the teacher’s expectations for the rest of the class.

Overall, I really enjoyed the lesson shown in this week’s video. It was engaging, appropriate, and a great example of how to effectively use a variety of the instruction strategies we have covered thus far. One technique, however, I would have liked to see more of is collaboration. If I were to recreate this lesson in my future classroom (and I might), I would ask students to brainstorm, with their table groups, different adjectives they could use to describe the Oreo prior to asking for volunteers or taking notes. “Using cooperative learning helps teachers lay the foundation for student success in a world that depends on communication, collaboration, and cooperation.” (Pitler & Stone, 2012). I am a firm believer in the effectiveness of collaboration, or cooperative learning, and would have liked to see that strategy be better incorporated into this particular lesson.

References:
Dean, C. B., Hubbell, E. R., Pitler, H., & Stone, B. (2012). Classroom instruction that works (2nd edition). Alexandria, VA: ACSD.

Pitler, H., & Stone, B. (2012). A handbook for classroom instruction that works (2nd edition). Alexandria, VA: ACSD.

EDU 6526 – Module 4

Note Taking

Part of this week’s module focused on the effectiveness of note taking as an instructional strategy. According to Dean, et al. (2012), “note taking facilitates learning by providing opportunities for students to capture, organize, and reflect on important facts, concepts, ideas, and processes they will need to access at a later time.” Note taking is a useful instructional tool that facilitates critical thinking and content analysis in the classroom. However, while note taking is certainly an effective strategy, it is one that needs explicit instruction if teachers expect students to be successful note-takers.

Dean, et al. (2012) share a variety of note-taking strategies teachers can implement in the classroom – webs, informal outlines, and combination notes. To introduce students to the idea of taking notes, teachers should begin by sharing content-specific notes they have personally prepared (Dean, et al., 2012). This helps students connect the idea of note taking to the subject matter at hand, and assists students in identifying important portions of content material that need to be included. Once teachers have modeled the note taking experience, they can provide students with a variety of frameworks from which to choose – a web, an informal outline, a bubble map, or combination notes (Pitler & Stone, 2012).

In my personal experience, note taking is a very effective instructional strategy in any grade. The school in which I interned last year adopted a new English curriculum. As part of this new curriculum, teachers were exposed to a two-column note framework and were instructed to use this framework with both primary and secondary students. However, while the second grade team had great success with this style of note taking, my mentor teacher and I found webs to be more effective with our students.

As I reflected on my personal experience with note taking in the classroom, I quickly realized that I had very little. Although my mentor teacher and I used webs quite often with our students (usually during the brainstorming phase of writing), we did not provide them with teacher-prepared notes ahead of time, nor did we offer our students a variety of note-taking strategies. Because of this, I assigned myself a 2 on Pitler and Stone’s (2012) Teacher Rubric for Note Taking. This score shows that I have a lot of room to improve in this area, and plan to in the years to come. Specifically, I plan to always introduce each note-taking strategy by first modeling the strategy and then providing students with a physical copy of my personal notes. This can be done (as Edith mentioned in our group discussion) through the use of mini-lessons designed to introduce each note-taking framework. Once students have been exposed to, and have had time to practice with, each framework, I will set aside time for students to revise their notes and review the information they recorded. Adding these new steps to future note-taking instruction will make this strategy more effective for my students, and will set my students up for future success in this area.

References:

Dean, C. B., Hubbell, E. R., Pitler, H., & Stone, B. (2012). Classroom instruction that works: 2nd edition. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Pitler, H. & Stone, B. (2012). A handbook for classroom instruction that works: 2nd edition. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.