Monday, November 26, 2012

EDSS 521: Blog Post 5

This semester, I have been surprised by the literacy levels of my students. They are able participate in social conversations, class demonstrations, follow verbal directions, and show critical thinking during think pair shares. Some of my students are kindergarden and 1st grade so they are unable to read written directions or prompts and understand content specific vocabulary. Many times if verbal directions are too long or complicated, students will not understand how to perform a certain activity.

September 30, 2013
My literacy-rich Physical Education classroom will focus on developing content-specific vocabulary through graphic organizers and visual aids, collaboration that builds social and conversational skills, as well as developing appropriate written responses through reflective journaling.

December 15, 2013
My literacy-rich classroom will transition from learning basic vocabulary to fostering critical thinking. Students will be engaged in performance assessments where students can take ownership of their learning and demonstrate their understanding through creating content-specific Newsletters, performances, and video analysis. Students are reading and following directions through a rubric, as well as expressing their analysis of a skill through a written response.

May 30, 2014
My literacy-rich classroom will focus on having students learn through creativity and teaching their peers. Students will be engaged in activities where they will watch their partner perform a skill and use the rubric to provide positive-corrective feedback to their partner. This way they are capable of independent learning through teaching, analyzing, and providing a correction, while also building literacy through reading and social activities.

Monday, November 12, 2012

EDSS 521: Project Tomorrow

I chose to look at the report about defining the emerging role of social learning tools to connect students, parents and educators, from the Project Tomorrow website. The report examines how social learning is being used in the learning process and how to better understand the value of incorporating technological tools in the classroom. It was not a surprise to me to see that they discovered that students, teachers, administrators and parents all increasingly see the value of social learning in both their personal and professional lives. I did find it interesting that students in particular had a heightened interest in using social learning tools in order to enhance their engagement and academic productivity in the classroom. I found this surprising because I just assumed students wanted to incorporate technology because it more fun and they can access Facebook more easily, not because they find it relevant for their personal learning process. This report shed some light into the increasingly level of support for technology in the classroom which will inform my teaching by allowing me to take more risks by incorporating new and exciting technological tools into my curriculum.  It also made me realize that if I incorporate more technology, my expectations for the students will increase as well. I will have to teach and model appropriate use of the tools while also creating guidelines to ensure that students are not misusing the technology and their privileges. If technology in my classroom use can be implemented, taught and monitored I would definitely buy into the idea of using more tools to enhance student learning. 

The video “Learn to Change, Change to Learn” on the Speak Up website discusses how technology can influence academic success for students by allowing students to research, analyze, collaborate, and synthesize learning through tool using technology. They discussed that their needs to be a shift from teaching students to standardized tests, to teaching students how to critically think and solve problems in more authentic settings using technology as the base. I agree that students need to be taught how to use the advancing technologies in order for them to compete for jobs that require knowledge from multiple literacies. I thought that the ideas presented video were idealistic and focused on how awesome education can be, but it did little to explain HOW we can create the shift to enhance student success and learning through technology. I think that there should be more research put into what implementation strategies are successful and how the use of technology with students can be monitored. A major concern for me is that I feel like my students would be easily distracted from learning content, so I would like to see what preventative measures I could use to help deter this problem. Overall, I believe that the message to create a student who has multiple literacies and can critically think and collaborate to solve problems is very important, but there needs to be some guidance in to how to actually implement and monitor such changes. 

Starting a ‘Future Teachers” type of organization at my elementary school site could be beneficial in many ways. One advantage to starting one of these organizations is that the teachers at my school site would gain new ideas and perspectives when it comes to teaching their students science and math. Education is advancing all the time so this would provide the teachers with the opportunity to keep up with new practices that might enhance their teaching style and student success. Another benefit would be that the students might be more engaged and motivated to learn science and math. It is important to get students hooked on math and science early in their academic years because they will most likely carry that passion for those subjects throughout their lifetime. I was unable to find any information on how to specifically start one of these organizations at my school. I would assume that I could bring it up to the principal or the faculty during a staff meeting and then make further arrangements after. I think the main concern would be how to fund such an organization so it would be important to be an advocate to gain support from the school, parents and the community.

EDSS 511: Unit Plan Blog

I would like to share my thoughts on creating a Pickleball Unit for a 6th grade Physical Education class...


Implementing a Pickleball unit allows the students to cover multiple standards within one content area. I incorporated various informal and formal assessments throughout the unit monitor student learning towards the learning objectives. I have used multiple differentiation strategies that not only meet the needs of specific students, but also that meet the needs of the general students in my class. I have incorporated demonstrations that benefit my students in need of differentiation specifically based on the learning profiles and readiness levels. The demonstrations provide a visual depiction of what is expected, which will reduce confusion. I have incorporated the strategy of working with partners to allow all of the students practice social skills while learning content through collaboration. I have differentiated the Newsletter assessment for the ELs by creating an individual rubric that outlines their expectations for the assignment.
I believe the one strength that stands out in this unit plan is my continual use of assessment. I have created informal and formal assessments that progress monitor and summatively show students’ understanding of the learning goals. Students are exposed to multiple assessments that allow for more corrective feedback to enhance the students’ skill performance and learning of the content. One limitation of this unit plan would definitely be that it is short in length. Students do not get a lot of time to practice and master the skills. If I had it my way I would create an 8-10 week unit where I could create a more in depth task analysis so students could gain more strategies, tactics and techniques of the game.
To measure the effectiveness of the pickleball unit I would analyze the students’ work on their Newsletter to see if they demonstrated knowledge of the learning objectives. If I noticed that students had some common misconceptions I would go back over the material and re-teach it differently to ensure student understanding. If the unit were longer in length I would be able to incorporate more checklist assessments that would allow me to gain evidence on student skill performance. I would use this assessment as a means of progress-monitoring to help students build more competencies in their skills.
Overall the unit planning process was quite tedious and took a lot of planning and thinking. I learned that if you are new to creating unit plans, you should start small and then build upon it as time go on. If you try too many things at once it can be chaotic and students will not get the most out of the activity. As a new teacher I know I will not be the best at teaching everything, so it is important that I find content that I am confident in teaching, and keep expanding my pedagogical content knowledge to that I can teach more in depth topics to my students. At the beginning of the year I did not realize how much time and planning went into teaching a full unit. It made me realize how important it is to be prepared and organized you have to be as a teacher. Unit plans should definitely be done well in advance, and after each lesson the teacher should reflect upon what went well and what did not. This reflective process should be continuous throughout teaching to ensure both student and instructor growth.

Monday, November 5, 2012

EDSS 521: 21st Century Literacies

Many teachers struggle with implementing and fostering creativity within students and I personally fall into this category. In my own clinical practice classroom students are rarely asked or prompted to use their imagination to critically think. Although the students sparingly engage in creativity, it does take place sometimes during activities where my cooperating teacher allows them to have "free choice." Free choice can range anywhere from performing a unique sequence of patterns on the plyometric ladders or during hoola-hoop activities where students can practice their favorite trick rather than just hoola-hooping around their waists. This allows students to explore different movement concepts while learning about their bodies during physical activity. By allowing students to foster their own creativity it helps them learn critical thinking skills which are essential when understanding the big picture.

Critical thinking and problem solving are essential for scaffolding and gaining true understanding of the content being presented. In my clinical -practice classroom, students engage in critical thinking and problem solving during demonstrations and the closure through checking for understanding. My cooperating teacher usually asks open-ended questions that make students think, rather than asking questions that have a straight yes or no answer. I think a great way to extend critical thinking in my classroom is to have students reflect more on their own learning process which will allow them to make more connections throughout the unit being taught. This can be done with self-assessments or a think/pair/share where students reflect on their performance as well as participation and collaboration within group settings. Students in my class are given several opportunities to collaborate with their peers because almost every lesson is designed for students to be working with a partner. Because my class is already used to working with a partner, I can provide more opportunities to allow them to work on their critical thinking skills collaboratively.

Although my students work mostly with partners and groups, it is also important that I teach students to work independently where they become self-directed learners. In physical education it is hard to observe each student and provide positive-corrective feedback to everyone when there is such a limited amount of time. I have noticed during my teaching that I provide detailed demonstrations and instruction and then my students go out and practice independently. Although I cannot get to every student, it does provide them the opportunity to be self-directed while staying on task and practicing the skill. I initially guide the learning through explanation and demonstration, but the students are responsible for noticing their common errors and trying to correct their skill performance to be more successful. Overall, implementing creativity, critical thinking, and independence can be hard as a teacher, but it is important that we take the extra time to plan in order to give our students the best possible education.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

EDSS 555: Sociocultural Aspects of Schooling for ELs

Students often times face several cultural issues during their academic career. Being a teacher allows me to have a platform where I can help alleviate some of the common issues that students face. One issue that I would like to bring attention to is that students need to be taught and modeled tolerance for individuals of different cultural and ethnic backgrounds. I can model tolerance and acceptance in physical education by creating lessons where students can research and teach the rest of the class about different cultures. This can be done simply by organizing students into sport education teams and having them pick what country they want to represent during that particular unit of study. Students would do research about that specific country, come up with a team name, color, cheer and regalia. Students would then present what the learned about their country's sport culture and traditions. This would help educate students about other cultures, while also fostering positive social and cultural interactions within my classroom. Educating students about different cultures is the first step in creating tolerance and acceptance, and I pledge to model and educate the appropriate behavior to help abolish sociocultural stereotypes.

Monday, October 15, 2012

EDSS 521: Lesson Planning

When designing lesson plans it is important to incorporate strategies that help stimulate your adolescents' developing brain. Because adolescents tend to prune out useless information, we as teachers need to create lessons that are relevant and engaging to students to foster more connections and synapses in the brain. When students can connect their learning with memory lanes they tend to recall information better. As a teacher you can foster these connections by having students write reflective journals where they can compare the content they learned with a past experience. This allows the students to take ownership of their learning and make personal connections from their lives with their learning.

EDSS 511: R8.1 Management Strategies

Classroom Management Plan
            My classroom management strategies stem from the foundational educational philosophies of Post-Modernism and Experimentalism. I believe that students construct his or her own knowledge and that the teacher is a facilitator for learning. Students need to experience what they learn and understand that there are multiple perspectives when it comes to solving problems. With this belief, I identify with the Cooperative Discipline, Synergetic Discipline, and Inner Discipline with Self-Control strategies as ways to foster a learning community within my classroom. I believe that it is my job as an educator to allow my students to make mistakes, but teach them to understand how to solve his or her own problems in a constructive way.
Preventative Approach
            It is important to implement preventative management strategies to avoid student misbehavior and to increase instructional time in the classroom. The first preventative management strategy I would like to implement is derived from the cooperative discipline approach. 
1. In order to build a positive learning community students and teachers must build caring relationships with each other (Albert, 1989-1996). This can be implemented by incorporating team building activities where students get to know each other and work cooperatively to solve problems. This approach fosters an environment that is safe where students can express his or her own concerns without the fear of making mistakes. Another way to foster positive-social interaction within the classroom is for the teacher to model connectedness with every student, and encourage the students to do the same with their peers (Grant, 2005). If the teacher leads by example the rest of the class might follow. By building connectedness with every individual in the classroom it allows the students to feel like they are in a safe learning environment.
2. The second preventative management strategy I identify with is developing rules to guide the classroom (Coloroso, 1994). Having a partial experimentalist philosophy on education, I believe that the rules of the classroom should be stated, but also negotiable. I will state the appropriate behaviors I want to see, then allow my students to come up with rules that meet those standards. Students need to know my expectations, but also should feel ownership and responsibility for following the rules.
3. When implementing discipline strategies for preventative management it is also important that the students and the teacher agree on reasonable consequences (Coloroso, 1994). Students need to feel a sense of belonging in the classroom, and allowing them to be a part of a democratic process enables them to feel responsible for his or her actions.
4. Students need to be included in the decision-making process (Kohn, 1996) in order to see multiple perspectives of how to solve problems. Like I stated before, when students are included in a democratic process they will feel like they have more of a responsibility to demonstrate positive behaviors.
Supportive Approach
            Over the course of my clinical practice I have noticed that it is important for students to know when they are demonstrating positive behaviors in order to reinforce that they are displaying living up to appropriate expectations, and also to take the focus away from those students who are being disruptive.
1. One strategy that motivates students to engage in positive behaviors is catching students being good (Albert, 1989-1996). When students display appropriate behavior, it is important to acknowledge and highlight the behavior in order keep them on track, as well as showing the other students what appropriate responses look like.
2. As an experimentalist I think that it is important that students need to experience learning, and a way to foster this is giving them an opportunity to solve their own problems (Coloroso, 1994). Students need to delve deep to understand the root of the problem and make an action plan on how to avoid and solve the problem. There should be an emphasis that there are multiple ways to solve and issue, but come up with the best solution that fits your individual needs as well as the classroom needs.
3. In order for students to demonstrate appropriate behaviors, it first must be modeled by the teacher (Charles, 2000). The teacher needs to lead by example and show respect for the learner when communicating and instructing, in the hope that the student will reciprocate the same behavior.
4. In order for students to be motivated to display positive behaviors they need to have a sense of worth within the learning community. By delegating responsibilities (Albert, 1989-1996) to students they will feel like they have an important role within the classroom.
Corrective Approach
            In my classroom I want the emphasis of corrective strategies to be student based where the child identifies the root of the misbehavior and reflects on how to avoid it in the future.
1. The first way to identify any wrongdoing by a student is to describe the behavior, not the child (Albert, 1989-1996). Students live up to his or her expectations in the self-fulfilling prophecy. They need to know that they are innately good, but sometimes their actions might be perceived as different.
2. In order for students to correct inappropriate behavior they need to be a part of creating a plan to solve the problem (Coloroso, 1994).  Students learn from their own experiences, so teachers need to allow time for the student to reflect on their actions and come up with ways to solve and avoid those behaviors in the future.
3. When dealing with students who are disruptive I will make my best effort to not let my emotions control the situation, and remain calm and relaxed when communicating with them (Albert, 1989-1996). By keeping a calm neutral demeanor it will help diffuse the problem and prevent the situation from escalating.
4. When a rule is broken in my classroom I will focus immediately on the behavior and consequences (Coloroso, 1994). Students need to know what they did wrong, take ownership of their actions, and also be guided on how they can change their behavior for the future. By being consistent and following through with consequences they will know that their behavior is not accepted and that they need to choose a different alternative.
            When implementing a management plan within the classroom it is important to include the students in the decision making so that they can take ownership of their behaviors and the consequences. It is important to establish the democratic rules and expectations and be consistent with implementing consequences. The students learn from their experiences so it is important to provide opportunities that allow them to critically think about their behaviors and how they can come up with different solutions to be successful. It is my role as a teacher to facilitate a learning community where everyone feels safe to express his or her own opinions, and where making mistakes can be opportunities for personal growth and learning.