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.